Tumors on corals

McCarty and Peters McCarty_and_Peters at compuserve.com
Sat May 19 10:51:49 EDT 2001

Dear Ruby, Simon, and others

In addition to the tumors found by Steve Coles in Oman, several examples of
other types of skeletal abnormalities have been observed.  They can be
divided into hyperplasms and neoplasms (cancerous tumors).

We have a section on skeletal abnormalities on The Coral Disease Page at:


The following paper reviewed the literature and documented the kinds of
tumors recognized through the mid-1980s:

Peters, E.C., J.C. Halas, and H.B. McCarty.  1986.  Calicoblastic neoplasms
in Acropora palmata with a review of reports of anomalies of growth and
form in corals.  J. Nat. Cancer Inst. 76(5):895-912.

Coles and colleagues investigated UV-radiation as a possible causal agent
of acroporid tumors in:

Coles, S.L., and D.G. Seapy.  1998.  Ultra-violet absorbing compounds and
tumorous growths on acroporid corals from Bandar Khayran, Gulf of Oman,
Indian Ocean.  Coral Reefs 17:195-198.

More recently, calicoblastic epitheliomas have been found in Montipora:

Yamashiro, H., M. Yamamoto, and R. van Woesik.  2000.  Tumor formation on
the coral Montipora informis.  Dis. Aquat. Org. 41:211-217.

Hyperplasms in several species of corals are currently being investigated
by researchers on reefs of the eastern Pacific, Hawaii, Red Sea, and other
areas.  This condition is characterized by more rapid skeletal deposition
and tissue hypertrophy compared to surrounding polyps and might be what
Ruby has found.  More detailed description of these and the tumorous
growths Simon has seen are needed.

Examples of both kinds of coral tumors and tissue sections, as well as
reprints of pertinent papers, are archived at the Registry of Tumors in
Lower Animals (RTLA), Department of Pathology, George Washington University
Medical Center, Washington, DC.  The RTLA is interested in documenting
additional reports of these lesions (contact: John Harshbarger, Director,
e-mail:  patjch at gwumc.edu; or Esther Peters).

Hope this helps!

Chip McCarty and Esther Peters
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