Effects of temperature, nutrients, organic matter and coral mucus on the survival of the coral pathogen,Serratia marcescensPDL100

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SummarySerratia marcescensis an enteric bacterium that causes white pox disease in elkhorn coral,Acropora palmata;however, it remains unclear if the pathogenic strain has adapted to seawater or if it requires a host or reservoir for survival. To begin to address this fundamental issue, the persistence of strain PDL100 was compared among seawater and coral mucus microcosms. Median survival time across all conditions ranged from a low of 15 h in natural seawater [with a first-order decay constant (k) = −0.173] at 30°C to a maximum of 120 h in glucose-amendedA. palmatamucus (k= −0.029) at 30°C. Among seawater and mucus microcosms, median survival time was significantly greater withinSiderastrea sidereamucus compared with seawater or mucus ofMontastraea faveolataorA. palmata(P< 0.0001). In seawater, the addition of phosphate and especially glucose resulted in significant improvements in survival (P< 0.001), while only the addition of glucose resulted in significant improvement in survival inA. palmatamucus (P< 0.0001). Increasing the temperature of seawater to 35°C resulted in a significantly slower decay than that observed at 30°C (P< 0.0001). The results of this study indicate that PDL100 is not well-adapted to marine water; however, survival can be improved by increasing temperature, the availability of coral mucus fromS. sidereaand most notably the presence of dissolved organic carbon.

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