Coral Diseases and Syndromes: A Primer, with Dr. Michael Sweet

Dr. Roy Yanong on Pet Life Radio

Coral reefs are among the most beautiful and biologically diverse communities in the world.  Yet corals are in decline globally.  Although some disease syndromes have been identified and described by researchers over the past few decades, many factors contributing to coral health and disease- both in the field and in aquaria- are still poorly understood. 

Dr. Michael Sweet, the lead researcher in the Coral Health and Disease Laboratory at Derby University, UK, uses innovative techniques to better study coral health and disease, and has helped bridge the gap between researchers and reef hobbyists. Join us, as Dr. Sweet discusses coral health and disease both in the field and in your home reef tank.


Dr. Michael Sweet is the lead researcher in the Coral Health and Disease Laboratory at University of Derby, UK and Lecturer in Invertebrate Biology. He completed his PhD on 'Microbial associates of coral reefs' and then conducted a post-doctorate studying coral disease around the world including Australia, Fiji, Thailand, the Maldives and Venezuela to name just a few. He mainly uses molecular tools and an understanding of the ecology of reef systems to describe diseases in detail; identify potential microbial pathogens; their sites of pathogenisis and potential cures and treatments for the specific diseases. His main focus is on bacterial and ciliate diversity associated with corals, both healthy and diseased, yet has also worked on fish, urchin and amphibian diseases to date. One challenge faced by many researchers is getting the knowledge we gain out to those who can use it. For coral diseases, one such group includes hobbyists and aquarium curators. For this reason, Dr. Sweet initiated his “Aquarium Coral Diseases” website to disseminate the knowledge from Researchers to the aquarium industry and hobbyists but also vice versa. Researchers pay little attention to what goes on in blog sites and web pages, referring to this as 'grey literature,’ however there is a vast amount of amazing knowledge available to them if they only take the time to look. Dr. Sweet hopes that this site is utilized by everyone interested in Coral Disease and welcomes any feedback, comments and questions on any aspects of this topic.