Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 June 2017 | 9(6): 10345–10346






Trematode infestation in coral colonies at Poshitra Reef, Gulf of Kachchh Marine National Park, Gujarat, India

D. Adhavan 1, R. Chandran 2, S. Tikadar 3 & K. Sivakumar 4

1 Present address: Wildlife institute of India, P.O. box 18, Chandrabani, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248001, India

1,2,3 Zoological Survey of India, Office of C.C.F. Forest Campus, “Van Sankul”, Jamnagar, Gujarat 361001, India

4 Wildlife institute of India, P.O. box 18, Chandrabani, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248001, India

1 (corresponding author), 2, 3, 4









Editor: M. Nithyanandan, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Safat, Kuwait. Date of publication: 26 June 2017 (online & print)


Manuscript details: Ms # 2730 | Received 19 April 2016 | Final received 30 May 2017 | Finally accepted 06 June 2017


Citation: Adhavan, D., R. Chandran, S. Tikadar & K. Sivakumar (2017). Trematode infestation in coral colonies at Poshitra Reef, Gulf of Kachchh Marine National Park, Gujarat, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 9(6): 10345–10346;


Copyright: © Adhavan et al. 2017. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Funding: State Project Management Unit, Integrated Coastal Zone Management

Project, Gujarat Ecology Commission, Gandhinagar.


Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: We thank the ranger and other frontline staff of Marine National Park, Gujarat Forest Department, for their support during the field survey.




The Gulf of Kachchh (GoK) is one of the three gulfs in India, which occupies an area of 7,300km2 with 42 Islands and is enriched with various marine habitats such as coral reefs and mangroves (Nair 2002; Adhavan et al. 2014). Poshitra reef, a part of the GoK Marine National Park is located at 22.413056 N & 69.191111 E. During our regular survey for Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project to assess the intertidal diversity, between 27 and 29 March 2015, a soapy oily slick was observed on the water surface at Poshitra Reef, which indicated mass secretion of mucus from the corals (Image 1a–c). Mucus secreted by the corals creates a layer around them like a slipcover to trap the dirt (sediment) and once the coral sloughs it off, it makes a new one (Wild 2004). The mucus produced by corals has a thin-layer that supports an active community of microorganisms, which may in turn affect the health of corals through interactions with other beneficial or pathogenic bacteria (Aeby 1998). Copious mucus release by coral reefs, however, is the first obvious sign of a generalized response to environmental stress including sedimentation, freshwater influence, sewage disposal, aerial exposure, cyanide exposure and bleaching (Peters 1984). In addition to that, some colonies of Porites sp. at Poshitra Reef were spotted with pink swollen nodules (Image 1d–f). These nodules are termed as a condition called “Porites trematodiasis” which is due to an infection of digenetic trematodes (Aeby 2003; Abey 2007; Palmer et al. 2009). These trematodes are common parasites of most animal taxa occurring in the intertidal communities as they are often unnoticed by most researchers and are an integral part of intertidal ecosystems (Sousa 1991; Leung et al. 2009). It has a complex life cycle involving a molluscan first intermediate host, massive coral Porites as the second intermediate host, and coral-feeding fish as the final host (Aeby 1998). According to Palmer et al. (2009), the pink pigmentation in the swollen nodules of infected coral is due to the presence of a red fluorescent protein in compromised tissue of Scleractinian coral that plays a role in cytotoxic defense, and provides new insights into the biological mechanisms involved in immune resistance. Furthermore, the sea surface temperature (SST) data (NOAA) of the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS) showed that temperature fluctuates from 30–34 0C which is above normal in the Gulf of Kachchh region during the past six months (NOAA; 2014). The temperature fluctuation and anthropogenic pressures are perhaps the reasons for coral stress (Adhavan et al. 2014) and this may be the opportunity for the parasite to infect the stressed coral colonies at Poshitra Reef. This situation indicates that if the corals fail to develop disease resistance and thermal tolerance, the reefs along the Indian subcontinent may experience a phase shift in community structure, which could impact fisheries.






Adhavan, D., R.D. Kamboj, N. Marimuthu & M.M. Ballodi (2014). Seasonal variation and climate change influence coral bleaching in Pirotan Island, Gulf of Kachchh Marine National Park, Gujarat. Current Science 107(11): 1780–1781.

Aeby, G.S. (1998). A digenean metacercaria from the reef coral, Porites compressa, experimentally identified as Podocotyloides stenometra. Journal of Parasitology 84: 1259–1261;

Aeby, G.S. (2003). Corals in the genus Porites are susceptible to infection by a larval trematode. Coral Reefs 22: 216;

Aeby, G.S. (2007). Spatial and temporal patterns of Porites trematodiasis on the reefs of Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. Bulletin of Marine Science 80 (1): 209–218.

Leung, T.L.F., K.M. Donald, D.B. Keeney, A.V. Koehler, R.C. Peoples & R. Poulin (2009). Trematode parasites of Otago Harbour (New Zealand) soft-sediment intertidal ecosystems: life cycles, ecological roles and DNA barcodes. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43: 857–865;

Nair, V.R. (2002). Status of Flora and fauna of Gulf of Kachchh, India. National Institute of Oceanography, 157pp (

NOAA (2014).

Palmer, C.V., M.S. Roth & R.D. Gates (2009). Red fluorescent protein responsible for pigmentation in trematode-infected Porites compressa tissues. Biology Bulletin 216: 68–74.

Peters, E.C. (1984). “A survey of cellular reactions to environmental stress and disease in Caribbean scleractinian corals.” Helgolander Meeresunters 37: 113–137.

Sousa, W.P. (1991). Can models of soft-sediment community structure be complete without parasites? American Zoologist 31: 821–830.

Wild, C., M. Huettel, A. Klueter, S.G. Kremb, M.Y.M. Rasheed & B.J. Bo (2004). Coral mucus functions as an energy carrier and particle trap in the reef ecosystem. Nature 428: 66–70;