Coral transcriptome and bacterial community profiles reveal distinct Yellow Band Disease states in Orbicella faveolata

Collin J. Closek, Shinichi Sunagawa, Michael K. DeSalvo, Yvette M. Piceno, Todd Z. Desantis, Eoin L. Brodie, Michele X. Weber, Christian R. Voolstra, Gary L. Andersen, Mónica M. Medina

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68 Scopus citations


Coral diseases impact reefs globally. Although we continue to describe diseases, little is known about the etiology or progression of even the most common cases. To examine a spectrum of coral health and determine factors of disease progression we examined Orbicella faveolata exhibiting signs of Yellow Band Disease (YBD), a widespread condition in the Caribbean. We used a novel combined approach to assess three members of the coral holobiont: the coral-host, associated Symbiodinium algae, and bacteria. We profiled three conditions: (1) healthy-appearing colonies (HH), (2) healthy-appearing tissue on diseased colonies (HD), and (3) diseased lesion (DD). Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis revealed health state-specific diversity in Symbiodinium clade associations. 16S ribosomal RNA gene microarrays (PhyloChips) and O. faveolata complimentary DNA microarrays revealed the bacterial community structure and host transcriptional response, respectively. A distinct bacterial community structure marked each health state. Diseased samples were associated with two to three times more bacterial diversity. HD samples had the highest bacterial richness, which included components associated with HH and DD, as well as additional unique families. The host transcriptome under YBD revealed a reduced cellular expression of defense- and metabolism-related processes, while the neighboring HD condition exhibited an intermediate expression profile. Although HD tissue appeared visibly healthy, the microbial communities and gene expression profiles were distinct. HD should be regarded as an additional (intermediate) state of disease, which is important for understanding the progression of YBD. © 2014 International Society for Microbial Ecology. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2411-2422
Number of pages12
JournalThe ISME Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 20 2014

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank the Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnologia (ICML), the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico for providing facilities and collection permits. Additionally we would like to thank those at the ICML, as well as the Medina & Andersen Lab members who provided assistance in collecting the sample, and in experimental and analytical methods. Especially, Adan Guillermo Jordan-Garza, Julia Schnetzer and Erika M Diaz-Almeyda for helping with the sample collection. Nicholas R Polato & Elizabeth Green for genotyping coral colonies. Lauren M Tom for assistance with the analyses. Justin L Matthews for statistical input. Bishoy SK Kamel and Erika M Diaz-Almeyda for additional draft comments. This study was supported by NSF awards IOS 0644438 and IOS 0926906 from NSF to MM.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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