This study looked at the evolutionary importance of coral immune traits, which are related to phylogeny in other organisms. 140 different fragments from healthy coral colonies were sampled, representing 14 of the most common Caribbean hard corals (20% of regional hard coral diversity) to test for the presence of a phylogenetic signal in immune traits. Published disease data was compiled to determine levels of immune-competence by a number of diseases affecting each species and its mean prevalence in the population. Results showed that disease resistance varies significantly among coral taxa for some immune-related process; species with older lineages demonstrated less disease prevalence compared to modern linages of corals. Older coral lineages (including Porites, Siderastrea radians and Meandrinidae) may be more resilient to conditions of the present and future.
Author: Pinzon, C J.H., J. Beach-Letendre, E. Weil, and L.D. Mydlarz
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PLoS ONE 9(8): e104787. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0104787