Phage therapy treatment of the coral pathogen Vibrio coralliilyticus

Authors

  • Yossi Cohen,

    1. Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
    2. Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Townsville MC, Townsville, Australia
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  • F. Joseph Pollock,

    1. Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Townsville MC, Townsville, Australia
    2. ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia
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  • Eugene Rosenberg,

    1. Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
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  • David G. Bourne

    Corresponding author
    1. Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Townsville MC, Townsville, Australia
    • Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
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Correspondence

David G. Bourne, Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3, Townsville MC, Townsville 4810, Queensland, Australia.

Tel: +61747534139; Fax: +61747725852;

E-mail: d.bourne@aims.gov.au

Abstract

Vibrio coralliilyticus is an important coral pathogen demonstrated to cause disease outbreaks worldwide. This study investigated the feasibility of applying bacteriophage therapy to treat the coral pathogen V. coralliilyticus. A specific bacteriophage for V. coralliilyticus strain P1 (LMG23696), referred to here as bacteriophage YC, was isolated from the seawater above corals at Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island, central Great Barrier Reef (GBR), the same location where the bacterium was first isolated. Bacteriophage YC was shown to be a lytic phage belonging to the Myoviridae family, with a rapid replication rate, high burst size, and high affinity to its host. By infecting its host bacterium, bacteriophage YC was able to prevent bacterial-induced photosystem inhibition in pure cultures of Symbiodinium, the photosymbiont partner of coral and a target for virulence factors produced by the bacterial pathogen. Phage therapy experiments using coral juveniles in microtiter plates as a model system revealed that bacteriophage YC was able to prevent V. coralliilyticus-induced photoinactivation and tissue lysis. These results demonstrate that bacteriophage YC has the potential to treat coral disease outbreaks caused by the bacterial pathogen V. coralliilyticus, making it a good candidate for phage therapy treatment of coral disease.

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