Current Microbiology

, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 139–145 | Cite as

Phage Therapy of Coral White Plague Disease: Properties of Phage BA3

  • Rotem Efrony
  • Ilil Atad
  • Eugene Rosenberg


The bacteriophage BA3 multiplies in and lyses the coral pathogen Thalassomonas loyana. The complete genome of phage BA3 was sequenced; it contains 47 open reading frames with a 40.9% G + C content. Phage BA3 adsorbed to its starved host in seawater with a k = 1.0 × 10−6 phage ml−1 min−1. Phage therapy of coral disease in aquarium experiments was successful when the phage was added at the same time as the pathogen or 1 day later, but failed to protect the coral when added 2 days after bacterial infection. When the phages were added 1 day after coral infection, the phage titer increased about 100-fold and remained present in the aquarium water throughout the 37-day experiment. At the end of the experiment, the concentration of phages associated with the corals was 2.5 ± 0.5 × 104 per cm2 of coral surface. Corals that were infected with the pathogen and treated with phage did not transmit the disease to healthy corals.


Coral Reef Coral Disease Phage Therapy Aquarium Water Healthy Coral 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by grants from the Israel Center for the Study of Emerging Diseases, the Israel Science Foundation, and the World Bank Coral Disease and Bleaching Groups.


  1. 1.
    Adams MH (1959) Bacteriophage. Interscience, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Barash Y, Sulam R, Loya Y, Rosenberg E (2005) Bacterial Strain BA-3 and a filterable factor cause a white plague-like disease in corals from the Eilat coral reef. Aquat Microb Ecol 40:183–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ben-Haim Y, Rosenberg E (2002) A novel Vibrio sp pathogen of the coral Pocillopora damicornis. Mar Biol 141:47–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ben-Haim Y, Zicherman-Keren M, Rosenberg E (2003) Temperature-regulated bleaching and lysis of the coral Pocillopora damicornis by the novel pathogen Vibrio coralliilyticus. Appl Environ Microbiol 69:4236–4242PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bruno JF, Petes LE, Harvell CD, Hettinger A (2003) Nutrient enrichment can increase the severity of coral diseases. Ecol Lett 6:1056–1061CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bryant D, Burke L, McManus JW, Spalding M (1998) Reefs at risk. A map-based indicator of threats to the world’s coral reefs. World Resources Institute, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cervino J, Hayes R, Polson S, Goreau T, Martinez R, Smith G (2004) Relationship of Vibrio species infection and elevated temperatures to yellow blotch/band disease in Caribbean corals. Appl Environ Microbiol 70:6855–6864PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Efrony R, Loya Y, Bacharach E, Rosenberg E (2007) Phage therapy of coral disease Coral Reefs 26:7–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Gardner T, Cote I, Gill J, Grant A, Watkinson A (2003) Long-term region-wide declines in Caribbean corals. Science 301:958–960PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Green EP, Bruckner AW (2000) The significance of coral disease epizootiology for coral reef conservation. Biol Conserv 96:347–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Harvell CD, Mitchell CE, Ward JR, Altizer S, Dobson AP, Ostfeld RS, Samuel MD (2002) Climate warming and disease risks for terrestrial and marine biota. Science 296:2158–2162PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kerri M, Mullen EC, Peters C, Harvell D (2004) Coral resistance to disease. In: Rosenberg E, Loya Y (eds) Coral health and disease. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, pp 377–399Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kuntz NM, Kline DI, Sandin SA, Rowher FL (2005) Pathologies and mortality rates caused by organic carbon and nutrient stressors in three Caribbean coral species. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 294:173–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Moran NA, Degnan PH, Santos SR, Dunbar HE, Ochman H (2005) The players in a mutualistic symbiosis: insects, bacteria, viruses and virulence genes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102:16919–16926PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Nair SV, Del Valle H, Gross PS, Terwilliger DP, Smith LC (2005) Macroarray analysis of coelomocyte gene expression in response to LPS in the sea urchin. Identification of unexpected immune diversity in an invertebrate. Physiol Genomics 22:33–47PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Paul JH, Sullivan MB (2005) Marine phage genomics: what have we learned? Curr Opin Biotech 16:299–307PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ritchie KB, Polson SW, Smith G (2001) Microbial disease causation in marine invertebrates: problems, practices, and future prospects. Hydrobiologia 460:131–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Rosenberg E, Ben-Haim Y (2002) Microbial diseases of corals and global warming. Environ Microbiol 4:318–326PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Rosenberg E, Koren O, Reshef L, Efrony R, Zilber-Rosenberg I (2007) The role of microorganisms in coral health, disease and evolution. Nature Rev Microbiol 5:355–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Sambrook J, Fritsch EF, Maniatis T (1989) Molecular cloning: a laboratory manual. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, NYGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Stent SG (1963) Molecular biology of bacterial viruses. Freeman WH and company publishers, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Thompson FL, Barash Y, Sawabe T, Sharon G, Swings J, Rosenberg E (2006) Thalassomonas loyana sp. nov., a causative agent of the white plague-like disease of corals on the Eilat coral reef. Int J Sys Evol Microbiol 56:365–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular Microbiology & BiotechnologyTel Aviv UniversityRamat AvivIsrael

Personalised recommendations