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How microbes control the health of the reef

Coral Reefs are often referred to as the rainforests of the sea. They harbour a large diversity of life, offer a natural coastal defence to prevent land erosion, are important nurseries of many fish species and are a large draw for tourists bringing in substantial income into many countries like the Maldives. However, reefs around the world are under threat. Increases in sea surface temperatures cause phenomena known as coral bleaching and ocean acidification means the corals cannot lay down their calcium carbonate skeleton without it dissolving. However, a less obvious threat, caused by small single celled organisms is also faced by coral reefs. Here we look at the roles bacteria, fungi, ciliates and viruses play in coral reef ecosystems, answering questions such as; ‘What do these organisms do in a healthy system?’ and ‘What happens when things go wrong?’ Highlighting the value of these unseen organisms and how they control the fate of entire ecosystems.

Part 1: Coral reefs and their main threats

Part 2: What are corals?

Part 3: What is coral bleaching?

Part 4: What are coral diseases?

Part 5: A novel approach to cure diseases

Part 6: Simple organisms, complex problems

Part 7: Questions and Answers

Further Reading

  • Sweet MJ, Bythell JC,Nugues M. 2013 Algae as reservoirs for coral pathogens. PLOS One (4.41)
  • Scriven L, Sweet MJ, Port G 2013 Flower Density Is More Important Than Habitat Type for Increasing Flower Visiting Insect Diversity. International Journal of Ecology
  • Sweet MJ, Craggs J., Robson J., Bythell JC. 2013 Assessment of the microbial communities associated with ‘White Syndrome’ in Aquarium corals. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research. (NA)
  • Sweet MJ, Burn, D, Croquer, A, Leary, P. 2013 Characterisation of the bacterial and fungal communities associated with different lesion sizes of Dark Spot Syndrome occurring in the coral Stephanocoenia intersepta. PLOS One. (4.41)
  • Sweet MJ 2013 Symbiodinium diversity within Acropora muricata micro-compartments and those available within the surrounding environment. Marine Ecology. (1.86)
  • Sweet MJ, Smith, D, Bythell JC, Craggs J. 2013 Changes in microbial diversity associated with two coral species recovering from a stressed state in a public aquarium system. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research. (NA)
  • Sheridan S, Kramarsky-Winter E, Sweet MJ, Kushmaro A, Costa Leal M. 2013 Diseases in coral aquaculture: causes, implications and preventions. Aquaculture. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aquaculture.2013.02.037 (2.70)
  • Croquer A, Bastidas C, Elliott A, Sweet MJ. 2012 Bacterial assemblage shifts from healthy to yellow band disease states in the dominant reef coral Montastraea faveolata. Environmental Microbiology Reports: DOI: 10.1111/j.1758-2229.2012.00397.x (5.84)
  • Sweet MJ, Scriven, LA, Singleton, I. 2012 Microsatellites for microbiologists. In: Gadd, G, ed. Advances in Applied Microbiology: 81, 169-207 (5.23)
  • Sweet MJ, Chesher A, Singleton I. 2012 Metal based nanoparticles; size, function and areas for advancement in applied microbiology. In: Gadd, G, ed. Advances in Applied Microbiology: 80:113-142 – 22794146 (5.23)
  • Caven, D.J., Clayton, R.L., Sweet, M.J. 2012 A comparative study of aggression and spatial differences between two populations of Pagurus bernhardus Journal of Young Investigators: 24(3), 1-13 (NA)
  • Sweet MJ, Currey L, Bendell L, Bythell, JC, Heupel M. 2012 Evidence of melanoma in the coral trout Plectropomus leopardus in the Indo Pacific PLOS one: 7(8):e41989 (4.41)
  • Sweet MJ, Bythell JC. 2012 Ciliate and bacterial communities associated with White Syndrome and Brown Band Disease in reef building corals Environmental Microbiology: 14(8):2184-99. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02746.x (5.84)
  • Sweet MJ, Singleton I. 2011 Silver Nanoparticles: A Microbial Perspective. In Advances in Applied Microbiology: Edition 1 chapter 5 ISBN:978-0-12-3887044-5 (5.23)
  • Sweet MJ, Croquer A, Bythell JC. 2011 Bacterial assemblages differ between compartments within the coral holobiont. Coral Reefs: 30(1), 39-52 (3.89)
  • Sweet MJ, Croquer A, Bythell JC. 2011 Development of bacterial biofilms on artificial corals in comparison to surface-associated microbes of hard corals. PLoS One: 6(6), e21195 (4.41)
  • Sweet MJ, Croquer A, Bythell JC. 2011 Dynamics of bacterial community development in the reef coral Acropora muricata following experimental antibiotic treatment. Coral Reefs: 30(4), 1121-1133 (3.89)
  • Sweet MJ, Jones R, Bythell JC. 2011 Coral diseases in aquaria and in nature. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK (1)
  • Sweet MJ, Croquer A, Bythell JC. 2010 Temporal and Spatial Patterns in Waterborne Bacterial Communities of an Island Reef System. Aquatic Microbial Ecology: 61(1), 1-11 (2.39)

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