After months of churning through the data analysis, we have some results that are ready to be shared with the world!
The dataset that we collected in the summer of 2014 thanks to all of you has allowed us to take a really close look at the bacteria on corals infected with white band disease. We were able to separate the disease associated bacterial communities into different groups in a way that no one has done before for coral diseases.
Because we sampled corals through time, we could identify changes in bacteria before and after the coral contracted the disease. We were also able to determine if bacteria were originating in the infectious dose, or were present on the healthy coral itself before it was exposed to disease. We greatly narrowed down our list of potential pathogens, finding bacteria in the families Campylobacteraceae, Alteromonadaceae, Francisellaceae, and Pasteurellaceae that were consistent with how we would expect a coral pathogen to behave. Some of these bacteria have never before been associated with coral disease.
We also identified bacteria in the genus Endozoicomonas that are associated with some colonies of healthy corals and may therefore be acting as a probiotic!
Sarah presented versions of these results at two conferences: the Ocean Sciences Meeting in New Orleans in February, and the Benthic Ecology Meeting in Portland, Maine in April (The poster and slides for these presentations have been uploaded to the "Results" section of this page). Both presentations went really well, and gave us a lot of great positive and critical feedback.
Sarah also presented them as part of her dissertation defense in April, which Felicia kindly videotaped if anyone is interested in watching this presentation (below). You can see that in the past few months the graphs have changed a little bit in a way that we think better tells our story.
We are now preparing these results for publication in a peer reviewed journal, we will of course let you know when this publication is available!
Please let us know what you think of our results! We are very happy to be able to share them with all of you.
Sarah and Felicia