Toliara, Madagascar
Toliara, Madagascar

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Sheridan C.,University of Mons | Baele J.M.,University of Mons | Kushmaro A.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Kushmaro A.,Nanyang Technological University | And 3 more authors.
Marine Environmental Research | Year: 2014

Terrestrial runoff and sedimentation have been implicated in a variety of impacts on scleractinian corals. However, despite accumulating evidence, little work has been done to investigate their influence on coral disease development. This study examined the role that river runoff and the associated sedimentation could play in affecting the prevalence of the coral disease "white syndrome" in SW Madagascar. Corals from reefs affected by river discharge and terrestrial sediments were more affected by white syndrome than reefs located far from any source of terrestrial runoff. Terrestrial runoff-affected reefs also displayed a wider diversity of coral species affected by this disease. While much evidence has been pointing in the direction of indirect effects of such runoff on coral disease development, our data corroborates earlier suggestions that pathogens are present within the sediments. As such, sediments released on reefs through river discharge could act as reservoirs of coral pathogens. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Caulier G.,University of Mons | Lepoint G.,University of Liège | Van Nedervelde F.,Free University of Brussels | Eeckhaut I.,University of Mons | Eeckhaut I.,Polyaquaculture Research Unit
Symbiosis | Year: 2014

The present paper characterizes, for the first time, the diet of the Harlequin crab Lissocarcinus orbicularis, an obligate symbiotic crab that associates with sea cucumbers (holothuroids) belonging to the genera Thelenota, Bohadschia and Holothuria. These tropical holothuroids host a rich symbiotic community in the Indo-West Pacific Ocean of which the Harlequin crab is the best known. The diet of L. orbicularis was characterized by analyzing the microscopic, molecular and isotopic signatures obtained from its gastric content. The presence of sea cucumber ossicles in the gastric mills of the crabs suggests that symbionts eat the superficial integument of their host and this was supported by the fact that Holothuroid DNA was detected in the stomach of L. orbicularis after DGGE and sequencing of the 18S rDNA gene. The stable isotopic δ13C and δ15N values of crab tissues were compared with diverse potential food sources including three holothuroids, three algae, one sea grass as well as the organic matter contained in the water column, in the sediment, and the second most abundant symbiont, the polychaete Gastrolepidia clavigera. The low δ15N values of crabs suggests that the crabs do not exclusively feed on sea cucumber tissue but assimilate diverse food sources such as sea grasses and organic matter contained in sediment that have similar δ13C values. There were no differences between the feeding of males and females but there was a positive correlation between the carapace length and the stable isotopic values indicating a shift of the food source as crabs grow larger. © 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Sheridan C.,University of Mons | Grosjean P.,University of Mons | Leblud J.,University of Mons | Palmer C.V.,University of Plymouth | And 4 more authors.
Coral Reefs | Year: 2014

High sedimentation rates have been linked to reduced coral health within multiple systems; however, whether this is a direct result of compromised coral immunity has not been previously investigated. The potential effects of sedimentation on immunity of the hard coral Montipora patula were examined by comparing physiological responses of coral fragments inoculated with sterilized marine sediments and those under control conditions. Sediments were collected from terrestrial runoff-affected reefs in SW Madagascar and applied cyclically for a total of 24 h at a rate observed during precipitation-induced sedimentation events. Coral health was determined 24 h after the onset of the sedimentation stress through measuring metabolic proxies of O2 budget and lipid ratios. Immune response of the melanin synthesis pathway was measured by quantifying phenoloxidase activity and melanin deposits. Sedimentation induced both immune and metabolic responses in M. patula. Both phenoloxidase activity and melanin deposition were significantly higher in the sediment treatment compared to controls, indicating an induced immune response. Sediment-treated corals also showed a tendency towards increased respiration (during the night) and decreased photosynthesis (during the day) and a significant depletion of energy reserves as compared to controls. These data highlight that short-term (24 h) sedimentation, free of live microorganisms, compromises the health of M. patula. The energetically costly immune response, potentially elicited by residual endotoxins and other inflammatory particles associated with the sterile sediments, likely contributes to the energy depletion. Overall, exposure to sedimentation adversely affects coral health and continued exposure may lead to resource depletion and an increased susceptibility to disease. © 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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