Ecological and molecular characterization of a coral black band disease outbreak in the Red Sea during a bleaching event

Ghaida Hadaidi, Maren Ziegler, Amanda Shore-Maggio, Thor Jensen, Greta Aeby*, Christian R. Voolstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Black Band Disease (BBD) is a widely distributed and destructive coral disease that has been studied on a global scale, but baseline data on coral diseases is missing from many areas of the Arabian Seas. Here we report on the broad distribution and prevalence of BBD in the Red Sea in addition to documenting a bleaching-associated outbreak of BBD with subsequent microbial community characterization of BBD microbial mats at this reef site in the southern central Red Sea. Coral colonies with BBD were found at roughly a third of our 22 survey sites with an overall prevalence of 0.04%. Nine coral genera were infected including Astreopora, Coelastrea, Dipsastraea, Gardineroseris, Goniopora, Montipora, Pavona, Platygyra, and Psammocora. For a southern central Red Sea outbreak site, overall prevalence was 40 times higher than baseline (1.7%). Differential susceptibility to BBD was apparent among coral genera with Dipsastraea (prevalence 6.1%), having more diseased colonies than was expected based on its abundance within transects. Analysis of the microbial community associated with the BBD mat showed that it is dominated by a consortium of cyanobacteria and heterotrophic bacteria. We detected the three main indicators for BBD (filamentous cyanobacteria, sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), and sulfide-oxidizing bacteria (SOB)), with high similarity to BBD-associated microbes found worldwide. More specifically, the microbial consortium of BBD-diseased coral colonies in the Red Sea consisted of Oscillatoria sp. (cyanobacteria), Desulfovibrio sp. (SRB), and Arcobacter sp. (SOB). Given the similarity of associated bacteria worldwide, our data suggest that BBD represents a global coral disease with predictable etiology. Furthermore, we provide a baseline assessment of BBD disease prevalence in the Red Sea, a still understudied region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere5169
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Hadaidi et al.


  • Coral bleaching
  • Coral disease
  • Coral reef
  • Metabarcoding
  • Microbiology
  • Red Sea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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