Killer cornered

Published: Monday 15 June 1998

The mysterious pathogen that has been killing coral near the coast of Florida, USA, for the last three years has been finally identified. Scientists Laurie Richardson and his team at the Florida International University in Miami, USA, have said that a bacterium called Sphingomonas is single-handedly responsible for the coral deaths. This bacterium, the team further claims, had not been known previously. The damage to the coral was first reported over three years back and so far, marine biologists say that over 17 species of coral have been affected, some severely. The next step in their research, says Richardson, should be to figure out how this previously-unknown bacteria affects the coral. The team members say that they will further investigate the various environmental changes that might have triggered this bacterial outbreak.

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