The role of microorganisms in coral bleaching

Eugene Rosenberg, Ariel Kushmaro, Esti Kramarsky-Winter, Ehud Banin, Loya Yossi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Coral bleaching is the disruption of the symbiosis between the coral host and its endosymbiotic algae. The prevalence and severity of the disease have been correlated with high seawater temperature. During the last decade, the major hypothesis to explain coral bleaching is that high water temperatures cause irreversible damage to the symbiotic algae resulting in loss of pigment and/or algae from the holobiont. Here, we discuss the evidence for an alternative but not mutually exclusive concept, the microbial hypothesis of coral bleaching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
JournalISME Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by ISF Grants 511/02-1 and 1169/07. We thank Nachshon Siboni for his help with the graphics and Amikam Shoob for his help with the photography. We thank Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and Tracy Ainsworth from the Centre for Marine Studies, University of Queensland, for inspiring us to write this article.


  • Coral bleaching
  • Coral disease
  • Holobiont
  • Vibrio


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