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Environ Microbiol. 2007 Aug;9(8):1995-2006.

Characterization of black band disease in Red Sea stony corals.

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Department of Biotechnology Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, PO Box 653, Be'er-Sheva 84105, Israel.


Microbial communities associated with black band disease (BBD) in massive stony corals from the Northern Red Sea (Eilat) were examined for the first time using molecular tools and microscopy. A high microbial diversity was revealed in the affected tissue in comparison with the healthy area of the same colony. Microscopy revealed the penetration of cyanobacteria into the coral mesoglea and adjacent tissues. Cyanobacterial sequences from Red Sea BBD-affected corals formed a cluster with sequences previously identified from black band and red band diseased corals from the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean. In addition, 11 sequences belonging to the genus Vibrio were retrieved. This group was previously documented as pathogenic to corals. Sulfate-reducing bacteria, a group known to be associated with BBD and produce toxic sulfide, were studied using specific primers for the amplification of the dissimilatory sulfite reductase gene (dsrA). This technique facilitated and improved the resolution of the study of diversity of this group. All the sequences obtained were closely related to sequences of the genus Desulfovibrio and 46% showed high homology to Desulfovibrio desulfuricans. The complex nature of BBD and the lack of success in isolating a single causative agent suggest that BBD may be considered a polymicrobial disease.

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