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Posted Wed Aug 17 2011: from Scientific American:
Human Sewage Identified as Coral Killer
A Florida biologist has linked a vicious coral-killing pathogen in the Caribbean and Florida Keys to human sewage that leaks into the ocean from improperly treated wastewater. The Caribbean Elkhorn coral was at one time the most common coral in the Caribbean, but has declined by 90 percent over the last 15 years and is now an endangered species. Among the many factors contributing to its decline is a disease known as white pox, caused by Serratio marcescens, a common fecal intestinal bacteria found in the guts of many humans and other animals, including seagulls, Key deer and cats. But whether it came from humans or another source has been a mystery.... To determine the source of the pathogen, the team tested human sewage, along with that of several other organisms, including seabirds, fireworms, snails and deer. A genetic analysis showed that only the strain found in human sewage and snails matched the strain in the coral.... The result: only coral inoculated with the human strain of the bacteria got sick.
[Read more stories about: coral bleaching, contamination]
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