New DNA sequencing methods may determine the cause of an enigmatic disease that is plaguing sensitive coral reefs
We are trying to find the biological culprit behind the 2012 Barrel Sponge (Xestospongia muta) Die Offs
A marine epidemic called “small orange band” (SOB) disease of the common yet iconic “barrel” reef sponge, Xestospongia muta, re-emerged on South Florida sponges in April 2012. Gross SOB symptoms appeared as bleaching, decaying and crumbling of the affected sponge tissues, followed by rapid death of the whole or most of the sponge individual.
During this outbreak reports and video surveys carried out by REEF-RESCUE found that 15- 20% of local large barrel sponges died or were adversely affected. The SOB condition has been witnessed periodically, and has been histologically described in scientific studies. However, the question remains “What is the cause of this blight and destruction?” YET TO DATE, NO CLEAR CAUSE OR PATHOGEN HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED. This condition could appear again, but with further research on the possible cause we could be better prepared to handle it.