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San Juan, Puerto Rico

Ruiz-Diaz C.P.,University of Puerto Rico at San Juan | Toledo-Hernandez C.,Sociedad Ambiente Marino SAM | Mercado-Molina A.E.,Sociedad Ambiente Marino SAM | Mercado-Molina A.E.,University of Puerto Rico at San Juan | And 2 more authors.
PeerJ | Year: 2016

Coral disease literature has focused, for the most part, on the etiology of the more than 35 coral afflictions currently described. Much less understood are the factors that underpin the capacity of corals to regenerate lesions, including the role of colony health. This lack of knowledge with respect to the factors that influence tissue regeneration significantly limits our understanding of the impact of diseases at the colony, population, and community level. In this study, we experimentally compared tissue regeneration capacity of diseased versus healthy fragments of Gorgonia ventalina colonies at 5 m and 12 m of depth. We found that the initial health state of colonies (i.e., diseased or healthy) had a significant effect on tissue regeneration (healing). All healthy fragments exhibited full recovery regardless of depth treatment, while diseased fragments did not. Our results suggest that being diseased or healthy has a significant effect on the capacity of a sea fan colony to repair tissue, but that environmental factors associated with changes in depth, such as temperature and light, do not. We conclude that disease doesn't just compromise vital functions such as growth and reproduction in corals but also compromises their capacity to regenerate tissue and heal lesions. © 2016 Ruiz-Diaz et al.

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