loading page

Evaluating stony coral tissue loss disease intervention success through whole-transcriptome gene expression profiling
  • +3
  • Michael Studivan,
  • Ryan Eckert,
  • Erin Shilling,
  • Nash Soderberg,
  • Ian Enochs,
  • Joshua Voss
Michael Studivan
Florida Atlantic University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Ryan Eckert
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Author Profile
Erin Shilling
Florida Atlantic University
Author Profile
Nash Soderberg
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Author Profile
Ian Enochs
NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory
Author Profile
Joshua Voss
Florida Atlantic University
Author Profile


Stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) remains an unprecedented disease outbreak due to its high mortality rate and rapid spread throughout Florida’s Coral Reef and wider Caribbean. A collaborative effort is underway to evaluate disease intervention strategies that mitigate the spread of SCTLD across coral colonies and reefs. We conducted an in-situ experiment in Southeast Florida to assess molecular responses among SCTLD-affected Montastraea cavernosa pre- and post-application of the most widely-used intervention method, CoreRx Base 2B with amoxicillin. Through Tag-Seq gene expression profiling of apparently healthy, diseased, and treated corals, we identified modulation of metabolomic and immune pathways following antibiotic treatment. In a complementary ex-situ disease challenge experiment, we exposed nursery-cultured M. cavernosa and Orbicella faveolata fragments to SCTLD-affected donor corals to compare transcriptomic profiles among clonal individuals from unexposed controls, those exposed and displaying disease signs, and corals exposed and not displaying disease signs. Suppression of metabolic functional groups and activation of stress gene pathways as a result of SCTLD exposure were apparent in both species. Amoxicillin treatment led to a ‘reversal’ of the majority of gene pathways implicated in disease response, suggesting potential recovery of corals following antibiotic application. In addition to increasing our understanding of molecular responses to SCTLD, we provide resource managers with transcriptomic evidence that disease interventions with antibiotics appear to be successful and may help to modulate coral immune responses to SCTLD. These results contribute to feasibility assessments of intervention efforts following disease outbreaks and improved predictions of coral reef health in Southeast Florida.
11 Feb 2023Submitted to Molecular Ecology
11 Feb 2023Submission Checks Completed
11 Feb 2023Assigned to Editor
11 Feb 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
22 Feb 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
12 Apr 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
02 Jun 20231st Revision Received
05 Jun 2023Submission Checks Completed
05 Jun 2023Assigned to Editor
05 Jun 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
15 Jun 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
21 Jul 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
22 Jul 20232nd Revision Received
24 Jul 2023Submission Checks Completed
24 Jul 2023Assigned to Editor
24 Jul 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
10 Aug 2023Editorial Decision: Accept