Black Band Disease Molecular Analyses

Bruce W. Fouke fouke at
Mon Nov 26 10:25:24 EST 2001

Dear Ursula,

The article you referenced was a news brief written by EarthVision 
summarizing a presentation that Professor Abigail Salyers (Illinois 
Microbiology) and I made on our newly initiated coral black band 
disease (BBD) research at the November 2001 Geological Society of 
America meeting in Boston.

We have just submitted a manuscript summarizing this work to Applied 
and Environmental Microbiology. In this manuscript, all of the 
previous work on BBD and some other relevant diseases has been 
thoroughly referenced. The manuscript includes full references to the 
excellent series of previous studies by workers such as Richardson, 
Rutzler, Santavy, Antonius, Carlton, Kuta, Schnell, Peters, Edmunds, 
Goreau, Williams, Rohwer, and several others (a total of 77 

In our pilot study, PCR amplification and sequencing of bacterial 16S 
rRNA genes with universally conserved rDNA primers has identified 
over 524 unique bacterial sequences affiliated with 12 bacterial 
divisions. The molecular sequences exhibited less than 5% similarity 
in bacterial community composition between seawater and the healthy, 
black band diseased, and dead coral surfaces. Clone libraries from 
the BBD bacterial mat were comprised of eight bacterial divisions and 
13% unknowns. Several sequences representing bacteria previously 
found in other marine and terrestrial organisms (including humans) 
were isolated from the infected coral surfaces.

Interestingly enough, although the filamentous cyanobacterium in the 
BBD mat has been previously optically identified as Phormidium 
corallyticum (Rutzler and Santavy, 1983) there is no sequence in 
GenBank for P. corallyticum. This has been puzzling because a 1995 
abstract suggests that P. corallyticum had been isolated and 
sequenced (Santavy, Schmidt, and Wilkinson, 1995; Phylogeny of 
Phormidium corallyticum using 16S rRNA, 7th Annual Symposium on 
Environmental Releases of Biotechnology Products, ERL GB S665).

Please contact me directly if you would like to receive a preprint or 
have any further questions.

Best regards, Bruce


Bruce W. Fouke, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Geology
University of Illinois
1301 W. Green Street
Urbana, IL 61801 USA

Office Phone: (217) 244-5431  Office FAX: (217) 244-4996
Lab Phones: (217) 333-0672 or (217) 244-9848
Email: fouke at
Web Site:
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