[Coral-List] Needed: Description of White Plagues One and Two

Keven Reed reedkc at comcast.net
Tue Jul 4 13:27:08 EDT 2006

    Concur completely with Eric's comments. 
Think about human diseases:  several different ones may present with several of the same signs or symptoms--until one nails down the pathology from a histological sample, or in the case of an infectious type of disease grows out the etiological pathogen or parasite, a lot of erroneous diagnoses can be made (though an educated guess may allow one to choose an appropriate course of management).

Keven Reed, O.D.
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Eric Borneman 
  To: Melissa Keyes 
  Cc: Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov 
  Sent: Tuesday, July 04, 2006 10:04 AM
  Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Needed: Description of White Plagues One and Two

  Dear Melissa and Etichscuba

  All you can say in the field is that you have observed corals with  
  signs of a white plague-like condition or a white syndrome. The  
  etiology is not well enough understood when then signs of disease are  
  simply a loss of tissue, generally from the margins or base of a  
  colony. To even call it WPII would require that you collect samples  
  and determine if there are Aurantimonas bacteria associated with the  

  I have slide upon slide of coral diseases that look like white  
  plague, type I, II, III, white syndromes, white band types i and II,  
  white pox, white this, white that.  Basically the coral tissue is  
  dying, is bleached and dying, or has been eaten. There are many  
  possible reasons and the same or similar gross or field-observable  
  signs occur in the Atlantic, the Indo-Pacific, the Red Sea. The  
  etiology is barely known (and with questionable data across time and  
  space) for any of them, and now we know that even carbon can cause  
  similar signs (Kuntz et al 2005).

  Etichscuba said he saw the exact same thing. Snails, ciliates,  
  flatwoms, Hermodice, nudibranchs, parrotfish, bacteria, viruses,  
  sedimentation, abrasion, allelopathy, fish poop, environmental  
  stressors - all can cause the same or "too close to call" signs of  
  white disease in the field. A lot of field people still can't tell  
  the difference between a partially bleached coral, fish bites and  

  Before everyone who sees tissue loss on a coral begins calling it  
  white plague, the diagnostics must confirm the gross signs of  
  disease.  Its like having a headache or a fever or diarrhea...same  
  symptoms in humans of many potential disease agents or maybe no  
  disease agent at all.

  There are characteristic diseases - like black band disease. White  
  syndromes are not so clear cut and I wouldn't even say that the  
  complete etiology of black band is written in stone although it is  
  understood much better. There is even a different disease in the Indo- 
  Pacific that can look a lot like black band disease but isn't and is  
  caused by a totally different agent, Halofolliculina corallasia.

  I think its important to keep this in mind when making field  
  observations and assigning disease names to lesions.

  Eric Borneman
  Dept. of Biology and Biochemistry
  University of Houston
  Science and Research Bldg. II
  4800 Calhoun Rd.
  Houston, TX 77204-5001

  eborneman at uh.edu

  On Jul 3, 2006, at 11:19 AM, Melissa Keyes wrote:

  > Hello, Listers,
  >   I would greatly appreciate a description of the visual  
  > differences between the two White Plagues.
  >   Also, do they differ in rate of growth, as well as rate of  
  > colonization of algae on the freshly dead coral?
  >   Cheers,
  >   Melissa Keyes
  >   St Croix, USVI, Caribbean Sea
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