Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Injection of Acanthaster planci with thiosulfate-citrate-bile-sucrose agar (TCBS). I. Disease induction.

Abstract

This is the first report of the successful induction of a transmissible disease in the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish Acanthaster planci (COTS). Injection of thiosulfate-citrate-bile-sucrose agar (TCBS) culture medium into COTS induced a disease characterized by discoloured and necrotic skin, ulcerations, loss of body turgor, accumulation of colourless mucus on many spines especially at their tip, and loss of spines. Blisters on the dorsal integument broke through the skin surface and resulted in large, open sores that exposed the internal organs. Oedema and reddened digestive tissues and destruction of connective fibers were common. Moreover, healthy COTS in contact with these infected animals also displayed signs of disease and died within 24 h. TCBS induced 100% mortality in injected starfish. There was no introduction of new pathogens into the marine environment. TCBS promoted the growth of COTS' naturally occurring Vibrionales to high densities with subsequent symbiont imbalance followed by disease and death.