What Do We Currently Know About Coral Diseases In The . - Coral Reef

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E. ‘WHITE PAPERS’The opening day of the workshop focused on presentations derived from 14 positionpapers, to provide context and concepts for the break-out group discussions. Thepresentations, included in this section, covered key topics: 82What do we currently know about coral diseases in the Pacific?What lessons have we learned from Caribbean disease outbreaks?Diagnostic methods, systems biology and leveraging post-genomic technologiesEmerging diseases, disease outbreak investigations and ecological epidemiologyHow to integrate science with social, economic and political values?

I. INTRODUCTION—SETTING THE STAGECORAL DISEASE AND HEALTH CONSORTIUM (CDHC)Cheryl M. WoodleyNOAA NOS CCEHBRHollings Marine Laboratory331 Ft Johnson Rd.Charleston, SC 29412cheryl.woodley@noaa.govCDHC - VISION“To understand and address the effects of natural and anthropogenic stressors oncorals in order to contribute to the preservation and protection of coral reefecosystems.”CDHC - WHO ARE WE?The Coral Disease and Health Consortium (CDHC) was created in 2002, in response tothe U.S. Coral Reef Task Force’s (USCRTF) National Action Plan to Conserve CoralReefs (United States Coral Reef Task Force 2000). Our goal is to provide coastal andocean managers with scientific understanding and tools to help protect healthy coral reefecosystems and restore degraded ones. The CDHC is a network of field and laboratoryscientists, coral reef managers, and agency representatives devoted to understanding coralhealth and disease. It is extensive, highly collaborative, and completely voluntary.Currently over 150 partners, from federal agencies, EPA, DOI, NOAA along withacademia, non-profit and industry, contribute their time and expertise to the CDHC,whiletheorganizationalinfrastructure is supported by thecongressionally funded NOAA’sCoral Reef Conservation Program.Thecommitmenttoshareinformation, ideas, and commongoals led to the development of anational research plan, CoralDisease and Health: A NationalResearch Plan (Woodley et al.2003), that has inspired many toseek funding and devote newresources to the study andamelioration of coral disease.Members of the CDHC come from a variety of backgrounds, but all have a commoncommitment to share information, ideas, and common goals to further the study of coral83

disease and in so doing identify ways to better manage coral disease. We encourageparticipation of anyone sharing our vision and goals.CDHC - WHY?Recent reviews have documented an explosion in the incidence of disease, particularly inthe Caribbean. The first disease report occurred in 1965 related to skeletal anomalies(Squires 1965), with the next report coming 8 years later by Antonius (1973), from thesereports through the early 1990s, only four diseases had been recognized: skeletalanomalies, Black band, White plague Type I, and Shutdown reaction (Sutherland et al.2004). Since the early 1990s, monitoring programs in the Florida Keys have documenteda sharp increase in the number and prevalence (the ratio, for a given time period of thenumber of occurrences of a disease or event to the number of units at risk in thepopulation) of coral diseases. Reports from the Indo-Pacific suggest an emerging crisisin coral disease as monitoring efforts are able to explore new areas.The picture of coral disease has expanded from the simple perception of an infectiousdisease agent to a plethora of possible interactions with a variety of possible agentsattacking not just the coral animal, but an intricate group of organisms consisting of plant,animal and microbial associates. The complexity of this growing disease problem made it84

more difficult to design management regimes and increased significantly the need forcross-disciplinary tools to combat the problem (see diagram below).Realizing these were complex and complicated issues, we recognized that our lack ofunderstanding of the underlying mechanisms of coral pathologies was inhibiting ourability to manage the growing number of coral health problems. Also, to improve ourability to identify the factors responsible for coral health decline and increased diseaseincidence would require embracing a new paradigm of scientific investigation thatincorporates new methods and new technologies able to help elucidate mechanisms thatlink cause and effect relationships so the field could move from just descriptive scienceinto mechanistic science.There was an obvious need to unify the coral disease community, build scientific skillsand capacity, and provide standardization in investigative nomenclature, methodologiesand technologies in order to competently communicate and interact with other mainstream disease fields (e.g., pathology, cell biology, physiology, infectious disease,toxicology, medicine). In response, the CDHC was organized in 2002 when 50 expertsfrom various disciplines and perspectives from science to management, met anddeveloped what we now refer to as the Coral Disease and Health: A National ResearchPlan (Woodley et al. 2003). This document provided an integrated roadmap that begantying these ideas together. This document outlined gaps in our knowledge andrecommended research directions needed to support this new paradigm. Four majorthemes with accompanying strategic objectives were identified: Biology (6), DiseaseIdentification and Disease Investigation (4), Disease Diagnostics (5) andEnvironmental Factors Affecting Susceptibility and Infectivity (11). The 26recommendations encompassed 9 topic areas: Nomenclature, Model System(s), FieldAssessment of Coral Reef Condition, Microbiology, Toxicology, Histopathology,Molecular, Bioinformatics, and Advanced Education and Outreach.CDHC: WHAT ARE WE DOING?ResearchInformation is limited on the physiological parameters that define healthy coral and evenless on coral pathology. Our challenge is to apply advanced technologies in functionalgenomics, proteomics, toxicology, and systems biology to expand our knowledge tounderstand and recognize coral health and elucidate disease dynamics. The knowledgegained from this research approach is positioning us to move aggressively towardcharacterizing the processes that control ecological connectivity among reefs anddiscover critical control points for management strategies. The first step is to establishand make available tools that can support discovery and applied research. For example,CDHC efforts have helped establish transcriptomic resources from expressed sequencetag (EST) cDNA projects with over 30,000 coral EST sequences publically availablefrom five species: Montastraea annularis, Oculina varicosa, Porites astreoides,Acropora palmata and A. millipora. There are also over 28,000 ribosomal genesequences cloned from coral-associated bacteria available to assist in microbial diversity85

and pathogen research efforts. This type of information is vital and basic to developingan understanding for how an organism responds to its environment, is key to developingdiagnostic tools to assess coral health and lays the foundation for identifying criticalcontrol points and viable management options.Diagnostic ResourcesThere is limited application of medical/veterinary knowledge or protocols to the study ofcoral health and disease, resulting in ambiguous and often misleading communication offindings. Compounded by inadequate diagnostic tools and insufficient application ofdiagnostic procedures, the challenge is to develop standardized procedures based onmedical principles that clearly define terminology, pathology and diagnostic criteria.EducationExperts in coral biology, pathology and veterinary science are developing resources andweb-enabled tools for use in recognizing gross signs of disease and in clinical diagnosticpathology as well as developing case definitions for selected coral syndromes. The webtool will be used to guide investigators in the diagnostic process. Additional modules areplanned that will include virtual slide technologies for distance learning coral histologyand histopathology, consultation with experts on disease cases, and continuing educationthrough regular ‘grand round’ web meetings.Diagnostic ToolsConsortium members have achieved significant advances in diagnostic assaydevelopment that assist researchers in identifying coral stressors. Examples of newtechniques include: DNA probe for the White Plague agent – Dr. Laurie Richardson, Florida AtlanticUniv. DNA sequence analysis for the White Pox agent Serratia marcescens (newlydesignated 'White Pox Serratiosis' when the presence of S. marcescens isconfirmed) - Dr. Kathryn Sutherland, Rollins College, Winter Park FL Coral immuno-competence (IMCOMP) assay to assess the presence ofantimicrobial agents within coral tissue by using a modified bacterial viabilityassay – Dr. Craig Downs, Haereticus Environmental Laboratory PCR-screening test for recognized pathogens – Dr. Shawn Polson, Univ. Delaware& NOAA NOS Charleston, SC DNA Abasic site lesions – NOAA NOS Charleston, SC Various toxicity tests are being adapted or modified to address development,mutagenesis, and cellular pathologies associated with toxicant exposures.86

Specialized ResourcesSeveral specialized resources that help build capacity and provide outreach andeducational opportunities are being made available by members of the CDHC. Theseinclude: International Registry of Coral Pathology (IRCP) supported by NOAA, Oxford,MD, is a research tool and resource of voucher materials for the coral researchcommunity. Submission, holdings and acquisitions are located tml.For more informationcontact Dr. Shawn McLaughlin, shawn.mclaughlin@noaa.gov Annotated cnidarian bibliography containing 5000 references and abstractsavailable as an ENDNOTETM library or on CD, is supported by a complete set ofreprints and is accessible on an individual basis on site in Charleston, SC. ContactDr. Sylvia Galloway, sylvia.galloway@noaa.gov for more information. CDHC Website and Listserve – Supported by NOAA's Coral Health andMonitoring Program at the Atlantic Oceanographic and MeteorologicalLaboratory in Miami, FL. /www.coral.noaa.gov/coral disease/CDHC – VISION FOR ACTION - WHY ARE WE HERE AT THIS MEETING?The overarching goal for us is to “Promote the effective detection, identification andmanagement of coral reef diseases”. To do this a plan of action is needed that will‘Chart a course for coral health and disease in the Pacific and Indo-Pacific’. We haveconvened this meeting to: Synthesize the state of knowledge of Pacific coral diseases Develop a strategic plan to: Identify research needs to help understand etiologies, epidemiology and ecologyof coral diseases Identify innovative strategies for disease management on coral reefs Identify novel strategies to engage public and political sectors in partnering withus to combat the spread of coral diseaseDisease“any impairment that interferes with or modifies the performance of normalfunctions, including responses to environmental factors such as nutrition,toxicants, and climate; infectious agents; inherent or congenital defects, orcombinations of these factors” Wobeser 1981.87

References:Antonius, A. 1973. New observations on coral destruction in reefs, Abstract, p. 3-3.Tenth Meeting of the Association of Island Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean.University of Puerto Rico.Squires, D. F. 1965. Neoplasia in a coral? Science (Wash.) 148: 503-505.Sutherland, K. P., Porter, J. W. and Torres, C. 2004. Disease and immunity in Caribbeanand Indo-Pacific zooxanthellate corals. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 266: 273-302.United States Coral Reef Task Force. 2000. The National Action Plan to Conserve CoralReefs. Washington, DC. 34pp.Woodley, C. M., Bruckner, A. W., Galloway, S. B., Mc Laughlin, S. M., Downs, C. A.,Fauth, J. E., Shotts, E. B. and Lidie, K. L. 2003. Coral Disease and Health: ANational Research Plan. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,Silver Spring, MD. 72p.88

STUDYING CORAL DISEASES; UNDERSTANDING THE NORME. Kramarsky-WinterDept. of ZoologyTel Aviv UniversityTel Aviv, Israel 69978wintere@post.tau.ac.ilCoral disease incidence has been on the rise for the past thirty years. Within thattime frame approximately 30 new syndromes and diseases have been identified. To date,only few diseases or syndromes have been characterized in terms of causality and evenfewer have been characterized in terms of the physiological effect on the coral.The coral holobiont may be considered a "super-organism" composed of the coralhost, its algal symbionts, and accompanying microorganisms. Since disease is defined as"any deviance from normal physiological function of an organism" it then becomes notrivial task to ascertain the physiological norm of this complex "super-organism".In corals, disease signs and symptoms are usually classified by superficial signs,such as color change, tissue loss pattern, or changes in gross colony architecture. Thissimplistic classification is due to the inadequacy of information available describing basicbiological and physiological processes that could provide the baseline for comparison.For example, information pertaining to cellular processes responsible for coralcalcification and growth is still rudimentary. This is also true for information pertainingto biochemical regulation of coral reproduction. Similarly though mechanisms of tissuerepair and regeneration have been studied at the organismal level, only recently have theybegun to be assessed at cellular and molecular levels. Since these are all vital biologicalprocesses without which corals could not survive, understanding them is crucial to ourperception of normal coral physiology. In turn understanding the norm will allow for aproper diagnosis of deviation from it.The use of "the diagnostic method" borrowed from the world of medicine mayprove useful in elucidating disease processes. This method incorporates performing a"clinical" examination that includes historical and current information about the coral inorder to determine its state and provide a diagnostic interpretation. The purpose of thisexamination is to detect overt changes in carefully chosen assessment end-points withknown reference values. This will only really be possible though, once basic referencevalues have been established. The elucidation of physiological regulatory pathways willimprove our understanding of how the coral holobiont responds to stress and will assist informulating standards for proof of cause-and-effect relations and provide information onhow environmental change could affect host-pathogen relations and immune defenses.It is clear that assessment of coral health should be not be carried out only on asingle level of biological organization, but should be evaluated across a hierarchy oforganization including molecular, biochemical, cellular and tissue-level and wholeorganism phenomena, and include population metrics as well. Once these parameters areevaluated as a whole, we will be much better equipped to properly diagnose and mitigatecoral disease.89

Experts in coral biology, pathology and veterinary science are developing resources and web-enabled tools for use in recognizing gross signs of disease and in clinical diagnostic pathology as well as developing case definitions for selected coral syndromes. The web-tool will be used to guide investigators in the diagnostic process.

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