Cellular reactions to sedimentation and temperature stress in the Caribbean coral Montastraea cavernosa

Bernardo Vargas-Ángel, Esther C. Peters, Esti Kramarsky-Winter, David S. Gilliam, Richard E. Dodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


We present evidence of cellular responses to increased sedimentation and temperature in Montastraea cavernosa collected off Broward County, Florida. We sampled corals from six different sites approximately, 500-1000 m off shore, 10-15 m depth. Six samples were collected from four sites adjacent to areas of underwater marine dredging (project sites), while the remaining two samples were obtained far away from the influence of the marine dredging (control sites). SSTs around collection time ranged 0.6-0.9 °C over the 40-year monthly mean. All specimens collected at project sites exhibited histopathological evidence of mild to moderate sedimentation stress including changes in size and number of mucocytes in epidermis and gastrodermis, attenuation of the epidermal and gastrodermal tissues, presence of cellular debris, and changes in number of zooxanthellae. These findings corroborate results of laboratory-based, sand-application experiments. In addition to the above-noted changes, one specimen exhibited multiple lesions consisting of unusual gastrodermal detachment with infiltration of amoebocytes into the adjacent mesoglea. Tissues surrounding detachment injuries exhibited marked to severe cellular changes. Accumulations of amoebocytes at lesion sites are seldom observed in wild corals. This response may be part of an organized reaction to injury and infection, as has been documented in sea anemones and gorgonians; however, further research is needed on the nature and role(s) of the scleractinian amoebocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-145
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Invertebrate Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Florida
  • Histopathology
  • Montastraea cavernosa
  • Sedimentation and thermal stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Cellular reactions to sedimentation and temperature stress in the Caribbean coral Montastraea cavernosa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this