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From July 12-20, 2003, Mote Marine Laboratory's Tropical Research Laboratory (TRL) hosted a course titled "Diseases of Corals and Other Reef Organisms."
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) microbiologist Christina Kellogg (St. Petersburg, FL) attended the course, held on Summerland Key in the lower Florida Keys, to learn a variety of methods employed in studying coral diseases.
Esther C. Peters (Tetra Tech, Inc., of Fairfax, VA) and Robert B. Jonas (George Mason University, also of Fairfax) taught the course, which consisted of lectures, dives, and laboratory sessions designed to introduce students to the field of marine pathobiology. The main focus was diseases affecting hard corals, but diseases of other reef organisms, such as fish, coralline algae, and sea urchins, were also addressed.
The course was limited to 12 students to allow everyone to get hands-on experience. Methods of studying diseases included collection of field-monitoring data and physiological, histological, and microbiological techniques.
Specific exercises included underwater demonstrations of coral-sampling techniques, radial transects for counting coral species or disease incidence, and video transects. Microbiological techniques included bacterial isolation, characterization using Gram stain, API strips, and Biolog (biochemical characterization), as well as microscopy and a discussion of molecular-biological methods.
Overall, the course was a fantastic opportunity to meet other people from various institutions and countries who are working on different aspects of coral-reef ecology. It was an invaluable chance to get experience with relevant techniques and be immersed (pun intended!) in the multidisciplinary approaches necessary to really begin to grapple with coral diseases and the many possible interactions causing reef decline.
in this issue:
Diving Into Coral Disease
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