Esther Peters esther.peters at tetratech-ffx.com
Wed Oct 22 11:24:38 EDT 2003

Dear Nomenclature Committee and other members of the CDHC:


We respectfully request consideration of a compromise name for the Caribbean coral disease that has been referred to as both "yellow band" and "yellow blotch."  The compromise name we propose is yellow-blotch/band disease (YBBD).


The name is currently posted on the CDHC web page as "yellow band."  We feel this continues to confuse young investigators, because a very different disease was reported from the Arabian Gulf as "yellow band."  In that disease, a bright yellow microbial mat was reported by Jan Korrubel and Bernard Riegl to be present on 10 species from different families (Web site posting: coral.aoml.noaa.gov/themes/korrubel.html; Coral Reefs, submitted 5/9/96, published vol.  17, issue 1, 1998:  A new coral disease from the southern Arabian Gulf, page 22).  The disease "...manifests itself as a broad yellow band moving across healthy coral tissue in a manner similar to the Black Band Disease (Rutzler, Santavy and Antonius, 1983) insofar as where the yellow band actively moves into healthy tissue areas, a band of decaying and sloughing off tissue is observed.  However, the entire area denuded by the infection can retain the characteristic yellow colour."  They noted that tissue loss was approximately 20 mm per week in summer and 10 mm per week in winter.  In a conversation with ECP at the NCRI conference, Dr.  Riegl said that this appeared to be a yellow black-band microbial consortium.  He noted that, at this location, elemental sulfur is stored in a large uncovered pile near the shore for shipping.  Because the black-band disease microbes include all members of the sulfur cycle, it might be that increased concentrations of sulfur entering the water from this pile results in increased consortium production of sulfur particles, which are left behind on the skeleton.


This issue was presented in Coral Reefs (Santavy, Peters, Quirolo, Porter, Bianchi: 1999, vol.  18, page 97) and the name "yellow-blotch disease" proposed by Jim Porter.  Examination of Montastraea spp.  colonies on reefs off Panama indicated that the earliest lesions were irregularly shaped pale yellowish areas of tissue.  The tissue in the center of the patch dies first, with subsequent colonization of the bared skeleton by algae and sediment.  Tissue loss is slow, such that bare white skeleton is rarely seen around these sediment patches, yet the patch enlarges with time.  Early observers of these lesions had usually found the yellowish lightened margin of tissue around the sediment patch, leading to use of the name yellow-band disease.  The co-authors of this paper agreed that a different name was warranted for this condition to distinguish it from the yellow-band disease in the Arabian Gulf.  This disease primarily affects Montastraea faveolata and M.  annularis, but has also been reported to affect Agaricia agaricites, Colpophyllia natans, Diploria labyrinthiformis, D.  strigosa, Favia fragum, M. cavernosa, M.  franksi, and Porites astreoides (Garzon-Ferreira, Gil-Agudelo, Barrios, Zea, 2001, Hydrobiologia 460:65-69).  


The two names, yellow blotch and yellow band, have been used in recent peer-reviewed publications on coral diseases in the Caribbean.  Examples include:


Yellow band

Goreau et al.  (1998, Rev.  Biol.  Trop.  46:157-171) 

Garzon, Croquer, Pauls (2000, Rev.  Biol.  Trop.  51 (supl.  6):173-180)

Cervino, Goreau, Nagelkerken, Smith, Hayes (2001, Hydrobiologia 460:53-63)

Garzon-Ferreira, Gil-Agudelo, Barrios, Zea (2001, Hydrobiologia 460:65-69)

García, Cróquer, Pauls (2002, Interciencia 27(9):448-453)

Yellow blotch

Santavy, Peters (1997, Proc.  8th Int.  Coral Reef Symp., Panama, 1:607-612)

Weill, Urreiztieta, Garzon-Ferreira (2000, 9th Int.  Coral Reef Symp., Bali, 2:1231-1237)

Porter et al.  (2001, Hydrobiologia 460:1-24)

Santavy et al.  (2001, Hydrobiologia 460:39-52)

Bruckner (2001, Coral health and mortality, pp. 240-271, in Reef Coral Identification)

Bruckner (2003, Field guide to western Atlantic coral diseases and other causes of mortality, CD-                     ROM, UNEP-WCMC)

Bruckner and Bruckner (in press, Atoll Res. Bull.)


To bring this matter to closure and prevent further confusion, we propose the name "yellow-blotch/band disease" (YBBD).  This name captures the pathological behavior of the lesion from yellowish lightened patch to a ring with an evident banding pattern.  Use of this name should enable researchers to access the old literature and ensure that new reports are linked to both of these former disease names. 


Esther Peters, Ph.D.


James Cervino, Ph.D. candidate


Andy Bruckner, Ph.D.


Tom Goreau, Ph.D.

More information about the CDHC mailing list