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Cause of sea fan death in the West Indies

Abstract

A fungus from the genus Aspergillus is the probable agent of epizootic infections that have caused mass mortality of sea fan corals (Gorgonia ventalina) over the past 15 years1,2. Here we show that four strains of the fungus involved in these infections are members of the species Aspergillus sydowii, a common saprobe (an organism that lives on decaying matter) that is found in both terrestrial and marine environments. Isolates of A. sydowii taken from diseased sea fans caused new infections of sea fans in inoculation experiments, whereas isolates taken from elsewhere did not.

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Figure 1
Figure 2: Parsimony phylogenetic analysis of sequences from the 5′ non-translated region of the trpC gene.

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Geiser, D., Taylor, J., Ritchie, K. et al. Cause of sea fan death in the West Indies. Nature 394, 137–138 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1038/28079

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