Phototrophic microendoliths bloom during coral "white syndrome"

M. Fine*, G. Roff, T. D. Ainsworth, O. Hoegh-Guldberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Following rapid lesion progression of white syndrome in tabular Acropora spp., the white bare skeleton gradually changes to green, a result of endolithic algae blooms (primarily Ostreobium spp.). Endolithic algal biomass and chlorophyll concentration were found to be an order of magnitude higher in the green zone compared with healthy appearing parts of each colony. Chl b to Chl a ratio increased from 1:1.6 in the healthy area to 1:2 and 1:3.5 in the white exposed skeleton and green zones, respectively. These observations together with pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometry suggest photoacclimation of the endoliths in the green zone. Histopathological microscopy revealed that the endolithic algal filaments penetrate the coral tissue. This study highlights the interaction of endolithic algae with both the skeleton and host tissue. This may have a critical role in the processes that accompany the post-disease state in reef-building corals.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)577-581
Number of pages5
JournalCoral Reefs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Coral disease
  • Endolithic algae
  • Ostreobium
  • White syndrome


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