Please select your home edition
Edition
PredictWind.com 2014

Crabs help Great Barrier Reef coral combat white syndrome

by ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies on 20 Feb 2013
Crabs help Great Barrier reef fight deadly disease F. Joseph Pollock
A particular species of crab has been assisting Great Barrier Reef coral in combating white syndrome, a deadly disease that causes coral tissue to disintegrate.

Joseph Pollock, from James Cook University’s School of Marine and Tropical Biology and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), has been studying the disease, and its unlikely helper, the 'furry coral crab'.

The study, Cymo melanodactylus crabs slow progression of white syndrome lesions on corals, describes how coral-associated crabs help protect their coral hosts from disease, both of which appear throughout the Indo-Pacific.

Mr Pollock said another research team at JCU had originally reported on an association between white syndrome and these crabs.

Initially, it was thought the crabs were to blame for the disease, rather than helping cure it, he said.

'Researchers originally speculated that they may actually cause the disease, since diseased colonies have high numbers of crabs and it is known that these crabs can eat coral tissue,' he said.

'I have been doing a number of assays to determine the cause of this disease and it didn’t seem that the crabs could cause the amount of destruction you see with this disease, in which the coral tissue essentially just falls off of the coral skeleton.

'This was the first study to report that they actually slow the disease progression. To my knowledge, this is also the first study to demonstrate that coral-dwelling invertebrates have the potential to slow disease progression on their host.'

Mr Pollock said it was not entirely clear how the crabs slowed the disease progression.

'We hypothesize that it may be in a manner similar to maggot debridement therapy, an ancient medical treatment that is actually still in use today.'

Mr Pollock likened it to actor Russell Crow’s character in the film Gladiator when he has his shoulder wound cleaned by maggots.

'Essentially, the crabs could be slowing the disease by simply feeding on sloughing coral tissue and potentially harmful microbes at the lesion front.'

Mr Pollock said he had been studying white syndrome coral disease at Lizard Island, about 240km north of Cairns and 27km off the Far North Queensland coast, for about two years but this set of experiments was quite brief.

'We basically collected healthy and diseased coral colonies from the field, manipulated the crab numbers, and observed the fragments for three weeks.'

The disease had a devastating effect on corals, he said.

'The disease is pretty nasty. Essentially, the corals tissue just falls off of the skeleton and it is often fatal to the coral. Imagine your skin and muscle starting to fall off at your fingertips and spreading over the entire body leaving behind only skeleton.

'It is also interesting that we found these crabs to be very strongly attracted to white syndrome colonies. This means that when a coral is infected with the disease, crabs from nearby coral colonies could migrate to the diseased colony, slowing the disease. This could be a very interesting feedback mechanism whereby these crabs help to slow coral disease on reefs.'

The experiments were performed by Mr Pollock and Mr Sefano Katz, a collaborator from Israel who is completing an internship at JCU.

JCU’s Professor Bette Willis and Dr David Bourne from AIMS provided feedback and guidance on the manuscript.

This work was funded through by a Lizard Island Research Foundation Fellowship awarded to Mr Pollock for study at Lizard Island Research Station, a facility of the Australian Museum for two years.



For interviews, Mr Pollock can be contacted on 0466 407 141 or ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies

Sydney Harbour Boat Storage 660x82PredictWind.comInsun - AC Program

Related Articles

Coast Guard rescues entangled sea turtle off Cuttyhunk Island
The Coast Guard rescued an entangled sea turtle Sunday after it got tangled in a lobster pot off Cuttyhunk Island. The Coast Guard rescued an entangled sea turtle Sunday after it got tangled in a lobster pot off Cuttyhunk Island. A fisherman contacted Coast Guard Station Menemsha around 12:30 p.m., reporting the distressed turtle. A 29-foot response boat crew from Station Menemsha launched with a member from the Massachusetts Department of Natural Resources. They arrived on scene and freed the animal.
Posted on 2 Oct
Prepare now - Maria on collision course
Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 on Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, is closing in on a potentially catastrophic strike Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, is closing in on a potentially catastrophic strike on the already storm-weary Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, following a first-on-record Category 5 landfall for the island of Dominica Monday evening.
Posted on 20 Sep
Tropical storm warning in effect
A Tropical Storm Warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within warning area within 36 hours A Tropical Storm Warning is currently in effect for the area from Watch Hill, Rhode Island, to Hull, Massachusetts, including Block Island, Martha`s Vineyard, and Nantucket.
Posted on 19 Sep
Coast Guard readies for Jose, cautions mariners
Coast Guard units across the Northeast are accelerating preparations Monday ahead of forecasted tropical storm condition Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod crews are flying storm tracks and using marine radios to warn offshore boaters of the approaching heavy weather and recommending they seek safe haven.
Posted on 19 Sep
Hurricane Jose - Everything we know
Hurricane Jose is making a looping path in western Atlantic Ocean this week, and it's now Jose will ever become a threat Hurricane Jose is making a looping path in the western Atlantic Ocean this week, and it's now unlikely Jose will ever become a threat to the U.S. East Coast or the Bahamas. Jose is currently located about 495 miles northeast of the southeastern Bahamas and is moving southeast.
Posted on 13 Sep
Hurricane Jose to meander in the Atlantic this week
Hurricane Jose will make a looping path in the western Atlantic Ocean this week, generating high surf and rip currents Hurricane Jose will make a looping path in the western Atlantic Ocean this week, generating high surf and rip currents that will affect parts of the U.S. East Coast and the northeast Caribbean.
Posted on 12 Sep
New England based CG cutter, air crews deploy for Hurricane Irma
Rhode Island Coast Guard cutter crew and three air crews deployed in support of Irma rescue and recovery operations. A Newport, Rhode Island Coast Guard cutter crew, and three air crews from Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod deployed in support of anticipated Hurricane Irma rescue and recovery operations. Sunday, the crew aboard Coast Guard Cutter Oak loaded the cutter’s buoy deck and cargo hold with nearly 137,000 pounds of aids-to-navigation gear including buoy chain, sinkers, and other items for use after Irma
Posted on 11 Sep
Irma's march now threatens Tampa Bay
Hurricane Irma is moving northward along Florida's spine following its second landfall in the Sunshine State Hurricane Irma is moving northward along Florida's spine following its second landfall in the Sunshine State, unleashing its feared, devastating strike after it became the strongest to landfall near Key West in 57 years.
Posted on 11 Sep
Irma strike on South Florida Sunday after raking through the Bahamas
Hurricane Irma, a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane, is now hammering parts of the Bahamas and Cuba Hurricane Irma, a potentially catastrophic Category 4 hurricane, is now hammering parts of the Bahamas and Cuba, and will turn its fury on Florida in what is likely to be the state's strongest hurricane strike since Charley 13 years ago.
Posted on 9 Sep
Hurricane Irma - Warnings issued for parts of Florida
Hurricane Irma, a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane, is currently pummeling the Turks and Caicos Hurricane Irma, a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane, is currently pummeling the Turks and Caicos and will then head for the Bahamas before making a potentially devastating strike on Florida this weekend. Irma may also pose a serious threat to portions of Georgia and the Carolinas.
Posted on 8 Sep