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Trends Ecol Evol. 1998 Nov 1;13(11):438-43.

Coral diseases: what is really known?

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Dept of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA.


Reports of new and emerging coral diseases have proliferated in recent years. Such coral diseases are often cited as contributing to coral reef decline. Many of these diseases, however, have been described solely on the basis of field characteristics, and in some instances there is disagreement as to whether an observed coral condition is actually a disease. A disease pathogen has been identified for only three coral diseases, and for only two of these has the pathogen been shown (in the laboratory) to be the disease agent. In one case, the same disease name has been used for several widely varying coral syndromes, whereas in another multiple disease names have been applied to symptoms that may be caused by a single disease. Despite the current confusion, rapid progress is being made.


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