Mark Dondi Arboleda
PUWS infection, Cangaluyan Reef (M Arboleda)

PhD student Mark Dondi Arboleda kills corals - but in their own best interests, he is quick to add.

A coral microbiologist, his PhD project focuses on investigating the causes for coral disease by examining the bacterial profiles of healthy and diseased corals. This sometimes involves infecting corals on purpose and assessing their recovery potential under different conditions.

Infection trials have looked at Porites Ulcerative White Spot (PUWS) disease. There is a high incidence of this disease in the region’s coral reefs. It is characterised by bleached, round spots 3 to 5 mm in diameter which may either regress or progress to full tissue-thickness ulcerations that join together, occasionally resulting in colony death.

The research has demonstrated that a Vibrio isolate is a causative agent for this condition.

Interestingly fish-farming waste did not have a significant effect on the incidence of, and recovery from, PUWS under experimental conditions.


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