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White Syndrome (WS)


White Syndrome Lobophyllia spp.
Notes: : Focal white syndrome lesion with several polyps that have recently died, and two that are half dead; much of the colony also died months to years earlier.
Photo: Andrew Bruckner


White Syndrome Goniastrea spp.
Photo: Andrew Bruckner


White Syndrome Acropora cytherea
Notes: White syndrome with two bands of linear tissue loss advancing towards the center of the colony.
Photo: Andrew Bruckner


White Syndrome Stylophora subseriata
Notes: Tissue loss is advancing in a linear fashion in two directions, apically from the branch tips down and basally, from the oldest part of the colony towards the branch tips.
Photo: Andrew Bruckner


White Syndrome Ctenactis spp.
Notes: White syndrome with linear tissue loss.
Photo: Andrew Bruckner


White Syndrome Acropora spp. (tabulate)
Notes: White syndrome that began at the base of the colony and is spreading towards the branch tips in a non – uniform manner.
Photo: Andrew Bruckner


Echinopora forskaliana with a white syndrome characterized by multifocal, coalescing lesions. Several initiate at the edge of a old focal lesion.
Photo: Andrew Bruckner

White Syndrome identification

White syndromes are distinguished by the presence of a diffuse, white lesion that develops into a linear (or annular) band or an irregular patch on a coral colony. The lesion consists of an area of recently exposed coral skeleton adjacent to apparently healthy tissue. In some cases, a narrow band of bleached tissue may separate the denuded skeleton and normal appearing tissue.

Live tissue typically forms an abrupt margin at the lesion border and colonies usually lack a zone of transition between live coral tissue and freshly denuded skeleton, although some tissue sloughing may be apparent. Lesion boundaries are free of visible microorganisms, pigmented bands or other colonizing organisms.

Colonies that have been affected by a white syndrome for weeks to months often display extensive areas of tissue loss. Exposed skeleton first denuded by the disease, distal to the actively progressing front of the lesion, may be colonized by algae or other microorganisms and often colonies exhibit a progression from stark white skeleton to green or brownish skeletal surfaces with fine filamentous algae, followed by later stages of colonization by macroalgae, crustose coralline algae or other organisms.

White Syndromes characterized by diffuse patterns of tissue loss have been reported as white plague-like disease in the Red Sea, atramentous necrosis on the GBR, and white band disease.

White Syndrome and monitoring effort over time

Global occurrence of WS