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Ciliates associated with signs of disease on two Caribbean corals

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Abstract

Coral diseases have contributed significantly to the decline in coral cover in the Caribbean. As many as twenty diseases have been described for Caribbean corals, but few have known etiologies. Here we report on disease signs that were accompanied by high densities of motile, holotrich ciliates, on two species of Caribbean corals, Orbicella faveolata and Siderastrea siderea, which were field collected and maintained in aquaria. A visually estimated increase in ciliate density in the tissue of the coral colonies reflected a putative progression of three ‘different’ disease signs: white-plague-like, brown-band-like, and brown-jelly-like signs. The latter two diseases have previously only been described for corals in the Indo-Pacific, and in aquaria, respectively. Although it remains unclear whether these ciliates are primary pathogens or secondary opportunists, increasing evidence suggests that motile ciliates may play a role in Caribbean-coral diseases.

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Acknowledgments

We thank W Song and X Pan for assistance with ciliate identification, SJ van Woesik and JE Speaks for editorial comments, and two anonymous reviewers and a topic editor for comments on the manuscript. Our thanks extend to the staff at Mote Marine laboratory in Summerland Key, especially M Knowles, E Bartels, C Walter, and D Vaughn for assistance. We acknowledge NSF OCE-1219804, awarded to R van Woesik, for funding. AG Jordan-Garza acknowledges “Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología” (CONACyT, Mexico) for a full scholarship. Coral collections took place under permit FKNMS-2013-086.

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Correspondence to Carly J. Randall.

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Communicated by Biology Editor Dr. Hugh Sweatman

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Randall, C.J., Jordán-Garza, A.G. & van Woesik, R. Ciliates associated with signs of disease on two Caribbean corals. Coral Reefs 34, 243–247 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-014-1212-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-014-1212-8

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