Date of this Version
PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
During the last several decades corals have been in decline and at least one-third of all coral species are now threatened by extinction. Coral disease has been a major contributor to this threat, but little is known about the responsible pathogens. To date most research has focused on bacterial and fungal diseases; however, viruses may also be important for coral health. Using a combination of empirical viral metagenomics and real-time PCR, we show that Porites compressa corals contain a suite of eukaryotic viruses, many related to the Herpesviridae. This coral-associated viral consortium was found to shift in response to abiotic stressors. In particular, when exposed to reduced pH, elevated nutrients, and thermal stress, the abundance of herpes-like viral sequences rapidly increased in 2 separate experiments. Herpes-like viral sequences were rarely detected in apparently healthy corals, but were abundant in a majority of stressed samples. In addition, surveys of the Nematostella and Hydra genomic projects demonstrate that even distantly related Cnidarians contain numerous herpes-like viral genes, likely as a result of latent or endogenous viral infection. These data support the hypotheses that corals experience viral infections, which are exacerbated by stress, and that herpes-like viruses are common in Cnidarians.
© 2008 National Academy of Sciences.
coral reefs, disease, Herpesviridae, viral-like particles, virome
Thurber, R. L., Barott, K., Hall, D., Liu, H., Rodriguez-Mueller, B., Desnues, C., Edwards, R. A., Haynes, M., Angly, F. E., Wegley, L., & Rohwer, F. (2008). Metagenomic Analysis Indicates that Stressors Induce Production of Herpes-Like Viruses in Coral Porites compressa. PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), 105 (47), 18413-18418. http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0808985105
Date Posted: 04 October 2017
This document has been peer reviewed.