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Luna G.M.,Marche Polytechnic University | Bongiorni L.,Marche Polytechnic University | Gili C.,Acquario di Genoa | Biavasco F.,Marche Polytechnic University | Danovaro R.,Marche Polytechnic University
Environmental Microbiology Reports | Year: 2010

We investigated bacterial assemblages associated with corals displaying symptoms of the 'White Syndrome' (WS), a general term used for indicating the appearance of bands, spots or patches of tissue loss, which is devastating wide areas of tropical ecosystems worldwide. We collected WS-diseased (n = 15) and healthy (n = 15) corals from the natural reef (Indonesia, Indian Ocean) and from four large public aquaria. By using culture-dependent and culture-independent techniques, we found that a large fraction (73%) of the investigated WS events was associated with the presence of a high bacterial abundance and, specifically, of Vibrio spp. Vibrio harveyi, a pathogen of many marine organisms and recently involved in coral Yellow Band disease, was the most represented species, being recovered from five out of 15 diseased corals. In experimental infection assays, two V. harveyi strains, isolated from diseased corals, were inoculated on a total of 62 healthy colonies of Pocillopora damicornis. WS signs appeared in 57 corals, confirming the ability of V. harveyi strains to induce the disease. We conclude that V. harveyi is one of the coral pathogens involved in the appearance of WS. However, not all of the investigated WSs were associated to V. harveyi detection, nor to other Vibrio species (such as V. coralliilyticus), which supports the hypothesis that WS is not caused exclusively by Vibrio spp., but rather can have a multifactorial aetiology, or can represent a group of diseases caused by a variety of agents. Further investigations to identify specific virulence traits will contribute to the understanding of the role of V. harveyi in WS pathogenesis. © 2009 Society for Applied Microbiology and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Favaro L.,University of Turin | Gnone G.,Acquario di Genoa | Pessani D.,University of Turin
Zoo Biology | Year: 2013

In spite of all the information available on adult bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) biosonar, the ontogeny of its echolocation abilities has been investigated very little. Earlier studies have reported that neonatal dolphins can produce both whistles and burst-pulsed sounds just after birth and that early-pulsed sounds are probably a precursor of echolocation click trains. The aim of this research is to investigate the development of echolocation signals in a captive calf, born in the facilities of the Acquario di Genova. A set of 81 impulsive sounds were collected from birth to the seventh postnatal week and six additional echolocation click trains were recorded when the dolphin was 1 year old. Moreover, behavioral observations, concurring with sound production, were carried out by means of a video camera. For each sound we measured five acoustic parameters: click train duration (CTD), number of clicks per train, minimum, maximum, and mean click repetition rate (CRR). CTD and number of clicks per train were found to increase with age. Maximum and mean CRR followed a decreasing trend with dolphin growth starting from the second postnatal week. The calf's first head scanning movement was recorded 21 days after birth. Our data suggest that in the bottlenose dolphin the early postnatal weeks are essential for the development of echolocation abilities and that the temporal features of the echolocation click trains remain relatively stable from the seventh postnatal week up to the first year of life. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Robeck T.R.,SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment Inc. | Gili C.,Acquario di Genoa | Doescher B.M.,Sea For Life | Sweeney J.,Dolphin Quest Hawaii | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine | Year: 2012

Progesterone production is essential for growth and development of the conceptus during pregnancy. Abnormal development of the corpus luteum (CL) after conception can result in early embryonic loss or fetal abortion. Routine monitoring of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) pregnancy after artificial insemination or natural conception with ultrasonography and serum progesterone determination has allowed for the establishment of expected fetal growth rates and hormone concentrations. Using these monitoring techniques, we revealed four pregnant dolphins (12-24 yr old) with abnormally low progesterone production indicative of luteal insufficiency. Once diagnosed, animals were placed on altrenogest (0.044-0.088 mg/kg once daily) alone or with oral progesterone (50-200 mg twice daily). Doses of hormone were increased or decreased in each animal based on how fetal skull biparietal and thoracic growth rates compared with published normal values. Hormones were withdrawn starting from day 358 of gestation in animals 1 and 2, with labor occurring 6 and 7 days after withdrawal and at 376 and 373 days of gestation, respectively. Both deliveries were dystocic, with each calf requiring manual extraction and fetotomy for calf 1. The fetuses in animals 3 and 4 died at 348 and 390 days of gestation, respectively. Induction of labor was attempted in both animals, after fetal death, by using a combination of rapid progesterone withdrawal and steroid and prostaglandin F2α administration. The calf of animal 4 had to be removed with manual cervical dilation and fetotomy. All adult females survived the procedures. These data provide the first in vivo evidence that the CL is the primary source of progesterone throughout pregnancy in the bottlenose dolphin. Until further characterization of hormones required during pregnancy and at parturition has been accomplished, the exogenous progestagen supplementation protocol described here cannot be recommended for treatment of progesterone insufficiency in bottlenose dolphins. © 2012 American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.

Osinga R.,Wageningen University | Schutter M.,Wageningen University | Wijgerde T.,Wageningen University | Rinkevich B.,National Institute of Oceanography of Israel | And 23 more authors.
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom | Year: 2012

In order to improve the methodology for growing and maintaining corals in captivity, a consortium of European zoos, aquaria and academia executed a four-year public/private collaborative research and innovation project (CORALZOO) on the breeding and husbandry of stony corals. CORALZOO comprised the following topics: (1) sexual and asexual breeding of corals in captivity, including techniques for propagation, feeding and induction of natural coral colony morphogenesis; and (2) coral husbandry: development of generic bioassays to evaluate biotic and abiotic husbandry parameters and to monitor coral health, elaboration of methods for identification and treatment of coral diseases and optimization of transport and acclimation procedures. The results of this project are reviewed. Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2012.

Osinga R.,Wageningen University | Schutter M.,Wageningen University | Griffioen B.,Wageningen University | Wijffels R.H.,Wageningen University | And 6 more authors.
Marine Biotechnology | Year: 2011

To protect natural coral reefs, it is of utmost importance to understand how the growth of the main reef-building organisms-the zooxanthellate scleractinian corals-is controlled. Understanding coral growth is also relevant for coral aquaculture, which is a rapidly developing business. This review paper provides a comprehensive overview of factors that can influence the growth of zooxanthellate scleractinian corals, with particular emphasis on interactions between these factors. Furthermore, the kinetic principles underlying coral growth are discussed. The reviewed information is put into an economic perspective by making an estimation of the costs of coral aquaculture. © 2011 The Author(s).

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