Marine Biology

, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 347–356 | Cite as

Pink-line syndrome, a physiological crisis in the scleractinian coral Porites lutea

  • J. RavindranEmail author
  • Chandralata Raghukumar
Research Article


Coral diseases are one of the major factors that alter coral cover and their diversity. We have earlier reported the “Pink-line syndrome” (PLS) in the scleractinian coral Porites lutea wherein a colored band appears between the dead and healthy tissue of a colony. About 20% of the P. lutea colonies were affected in Kavaratti of the Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea during April 1996 and the incidence increased fourfold within the next 4 years. Fungi were associated in both PLS-affected and healthy specimens, whereas the cyanobacterium Phormidium valderianum occurred exclusively in the PLS-affected specimens. There was an increased expression of a 29 kDa protein without any significant increase in total protein content in the PLS-affected colonies. A reduced number of zooxanthellae and an increase in zooxanthellae size, mitotic index, and chl a concentrations were some of the characteristics of the PLS-affected colonies. PLS induction experiments conducted using selected fungi and the cyanobacterium P. valderianum isolated from the affected colonies and abiotic factors, such as CO2 enrichment and the effect of cyanobacterial photosynthesis inhibition, indicated that the CO2 build-up around the host tissue caused the pink coloration. We hypothesize that these physiological changes disturb the mutualism between the zooxanthellae and the host. When the symbiosis is disturbed by the external CO2, the host loses control over the zooxanthellae, causing their uncontrolled division. This process may lead to a break in photosynthate transfer to the host, thereby resulting in starvation and finally leading to partial mortality. We further hypothesize that these degenerative processes are triggered by the CO2 produced by P. valderianum through its carbon concentration mechanism. In this context, any opportunistic cyanobacteria or other agents having potential to interfere with the physiology of the host or the symbiont can cause such a physiological disorder. The mechanism of PLS formation is an early warning to protect corals as the increasing atmospheric CO2 could induce PLS-like physiological disorder in corals.


Mitotic Index DCMU Scleractinian Coral Coral Coloni Coral Disease 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The first author thanks Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for award of senior research fellowship. The second author acknowledges Department of Ocean Development and Ministry of Environment and Forests, New Delhi for financial grants. We acknowledge Dr. Ismail Koya, Deputy Director, Department of Science and Technology, Union Territory of the Lakshadweep for logistic support in the island. We thank Dr. S. Raghukumar and Dr. M. V. M. Wafar for critical review of the manuscript. We also thank anonymous referees for the useful comments for the improvement of this manuscript. ‘NIO Contribution Number 4053’


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Oceanography Regional CentreCochinIndia
  2. 2.National Institute of OceanographyGoaIndia

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