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Approximately 75% of all known coral species can be found in the Coral Triangle of Papua, Malaysia and Indonesia. In this highly diverse framework hard corals such as Acroporidae are keystone species and form the 3D reef structure. However, overfishing, nutrification, global climate change and disease outbreaks disturb the fragile coral reef equilibrium.
White Syndrome is the most common coral disease in the Indo-Pacific, yet little is known about possible bacterial pathogens. As long as the causative agents remain unknown, no actions can be taken to prevent spreading of the disease, nor can the environmental management be improved. Interestingly, recent research on other coral diseases suggests a direct link between disease prevalence and human sewage. Microorganisms which originate from anthropogenic activities might act as pathogens on scleractinian corals and provoke disease.
The authors, Jan (left) and Hagen (right), on an expedition in the Himalayans in 2015.
The authors, Hagen (left) and Jan (right), during their Master at the Max-Planck-Institute, Bremen, Germany in 2018.