A vaccine for corals

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A vaccine for corals

October 16, 2012 - 23:15
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Inoculation of corals with virus can protect them against white plague disease.

White plague disease is caused by the marine bacteria. The progressively destroys coral tissue and leaving an expanding area that appears bleached. It has been epidemic in the Caribbean.

Electron micrograph of Bacteriophages (vira) in the process of infecting a cell. This is not the virus or bacteriophage in question but a generic photo

White syndrome' is a name given to a number of diseases exhibiting similar symptoms, such as such as white pox, white band and white plague disease. The causes of white syndrome are in many cases unknown.

White syndrome has increased in abundance 20-fold in the last five years, with increases on inner, mid-shelf and outer-shelf reefs along the length of the Great Barrier Reef. It also had a major impact on Caribbean reefs.

In areas of the Great Barrier Reef surveyed, white syndrome, along with skeletal eroding band, was the most common disease.

Testing a cure

Eugene Rosenberg of Tel Aviv University in Israel and his group have now found a potential cure: A virus named BA3

To test its usefulness, they inoculated corals living next to infected ones with BA3. The odds of infection dropped to 5 per cent. Doing the same to infected corals stopped the disease in its tracks.

Rosenberg is now in talks with the Israeli government to treat large parts of the Gulf of Aqaba with BA3 by artificially introducing the virus to reefs.

The virus exists naturally in the Red Sea, so they think it's unlikely to have adverse effects.

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