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Coral Concerns

Disease susceptibility in coral

Disease susceptibility in coral

Photography by Andrzej Bochenski

Biology Professor Laura Mydlarz and doctoral candidate Nicholas MacKnight published a study in the Nature online journal Communications Biology demonstrating that a coral reef’s tolerance of microbial imbalance, when faced with white plague disease, reflects its overall disease resistance.

Coral species have suffered severe declines due to disease outbreaks

Coral species have suffered severe declines due to disease outbreaks. The research improves our understanding of susceptibility among coral species and could help predict future disease impacts. It also gives researchers a way to quantify community-level change, something that will be increasingly relevant in environments affected by climate change.

For its study, the team—which includes alumni Bradford Dimos (’21 PhD), Lauren Fuess (’18 PhD), Contessa Ricci (’19 PhD), and Caleb Butler (’20 BS)—transmitted white plague disease to seven diverse Caribbean coral species in a controlled setting. This disease is one of the most destructive in the Caribbean and has been devastating coral species there since the 1970s.

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