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ISME J. 2009 Jun;3(6):752-5. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2009.18. Epub 2009 Mar 12.

Presence of Aspergillus sydowii, a pathogen of gorgonian sea fans in the marine sponge Spongia obscura.

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Department of Zoology, George S Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel.


The fungus Aspergillus sydowii is the causative agent of epidemics that affect gorgonian corals (sea fans) and has significantly affected their populations in the Caribbean Sea. We have isolated a strain of A. sydowii from healthy marine sponges (Spongia obscura) collected in Bahamian inshore waters. After its identification on the basis of morphology, molecular markers and chemical profiling followed by pathogenicity tests, we found this strain to be highly similar to a strain isolated from diseased coral, and have shown the capacity of this fungus to persist in sponge environment. Our findings suggest that sponges have the possibility of being reservoirs of a potential marine pathogen.

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