[Coral-List] Needed: Description of White Plagues One and Two
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.
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?
> Melissa Keyes
> St Croix, USVI, Caribbean Sea
> Talk is cheap. Use Yahoo! Messenger to make PC-to-Phone calls.
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