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Epidemiology of Fish and Wildlife Diseases

Samples of genetics and genomics research about the epidemiology of coral diseases.

Using Microarray Technology to Study Mechanisms of Coral Disease
Great star coral with lesions. Photo credit: USGS
The great star coral (Montastraea cavernosa) with lesions caused by yellow blotch/band disease. Photo credit: USGS

Coral disease is now recognized as one of the major causes of reef degradation and coral death.  Although many coral diseases or syndromes are currently being monitored, few causative agents have been identified.  Moreover, these putative pathogens have not been consistently observed in all corals exhibiting signs of these diseases.  Further research has suggested that coral diseases may be secondary opportunistic infections, rather than the result of primary pathogens, making it imperative to understand the microbial shifts that occur from healthy to diseased corals.  This project will employ custom-designed microarrays to characterize several coral species on a microbial level.  Disease mechanisms will be studied by comparing the microbial profiles of healthy and diseased corals at two sites: Dry Tortugas National Park in the Gulf of Mexico, and Virgin Islands National Park in the Caribbean.  This will allow an unprecedented comparison of microbial communities between healthy and diseased corals, between species of coral, and between geographic locations.  Microarray data will provide a new baseline of information and may reveal previously unknown patterns underlying the diseased state.

Related Publication:

Kellogg, C.A., and Zawada, D.G., 2009, Applying new methods to diagnose coral diseases: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009-3113, 2 p. (Also available at

For more information contact Christina A. Kellogg, St. Petersburg Science Center.

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