Professor John Bythell
Prof of Coral Reef Biology
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 6674
- Address: Biology
School of Natural & Environmental Sciences
4.64 Ridley Building
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Coral reef ecology is at the forefront of national and international media attention because of the serious threats to these ecosystems from global climate change, disease and over-exploitation. As long ago as 1998, a global sea surface temperature event is estimated to have killed 17% of the corals of the world. Regional mass bleaching events are now common occurrences, often followed by disease outbreaks. My recent research has addressed two main foci in the study of coral health and disease: 1) the development of a culture-independent molecular microbial ecology approach to the study of emergent diseases in reef corals, and 2) The cellular and molecular responses of reef corals to infection and environmental stress, most recently in relation to cell death pathways and mucus secretion dynamics. The next phase of this research is to combine the molecular and cellular host coral stress responses with experimental manipulation of microbial exposure and environmental stress. As genomic information becomes available for corals and related lower invertebrates, post-genomic and proteomic approaches to stress and disease analysis have also become possible.
From 2012-2015 I held the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & International) at the University of the South Pacific, based in Fiji. The small island states of the south Pacific are at the forefront of global climate change impacts. Prior to that, I was a member of an international ‘Coral Reef Targeted Research’ programme investigating coral bleaching (http://www.gefcoral.org/) and more recently acted on the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association programme committee (http://www.wiomsa.org/). I am particularly concerned about raising awareness of the dramatic impacts of climate change in tropical coastal ecosystems (see video article at: http://www.climateshifts.org/?p=5779).
Google Scholar page: http://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=6pqp1LEAAAAJ&hl=en
Large-scale coral bleaching episodes were unknown prior to 1979 but have become more frequent with repeated mass coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and 2017. These events are linked to environmental stress, particularly temperature increases, and in addition to the local and regional loss of biodiversity, may represent the first case of the functional collapse of an ecosystem due to global climate change. Concurrent with these mass bleaching events, there has been widespread concern over the emergence of coral diseases over the past three decades. Reef core data from Belize indicates that the mass mortality of two of the dominant coral species in the Caribbean is unprecedented in at least the last 3-4000 years, which suggests a link to anthropogenic activities. Unfortunately, identification and characterisation of the causal agents of most coral diseases remains unresolved or poorly characterised, with traditional microbiological approaches to determining disease causation being misleading in these typically polymicrobial diseases. My research group addresses these areas by applying molecular approaches to understanding microbial ecology of corals and coral reefs. Other research interests focus on the host responses to environmental stress and host-microbe interactions.
Degree Programme Director: MSc Ecological Consultancy
SPG8013 Environmental Impact Assessment (Flexible Learning)
BIO3041 Molecular Evolution & Systematics
MST8011 Critical Appraisal of Coastal Production Systems
BIO3022 Residential Fieldcourse
BIO1010 Biology in Action
BIO2017 Microbiology 2
BIO3037 Current Zoology
- Bythell JC, Brown BE, Kirkwood TBL. Do reef corals age?. Biological Reviews 2018, 93(2), 1192-1202.
- Bakshani CR, Morales-Garcia AL, Althaus M, Wilcox MD, Pearson JP, Bythell JC, Burgess G. Evolutionary conservation of the antimicrobial function of mucus: a first defence against infection. npj Biofilms and Microbiomes 2018, 4(14), 1-12.
- Sweet MJ, Bythell JC. The role of viruses in coral health and disease. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 2017, 147, 136-144.
- Miller J, Sweet MJ, Wood E, Bythell JC. Baseline coral disease surveys within three marine parks in Sabah, Borneo. PeerJ 2015, 3, e1391.
- Smith D, Leary P, Craggs J, Bythell J, Sweet M. Microbial Communities Associated with Healthy and White Syndrome-Affected Echinopora lamellosa in Aquaria and Experimental Treatment with the Antibiotic Ampicillin. PLoS ONE 2015, 10(3), e0121780.
- Sweet MJ, Bythell JC. White Syndrome in Acropora muricata: nonspecific bacterial infection and ciliate histophagy. Molecular Ecology 2015, 24(5), 1150-1159.
- Sweet MJ, Croquer A, Bythell JC. Experimental antibiotic treatment identifies potential pathogens of white band disease in the endangered Caribbean coral Acropora cervicornis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 2014, 281(1788), 20140094.
- Sweet MJ, Bythell JC, Nugues MM. Algae as Reservoirs for Coral Pathogens. PLoS ONE 2013, 8(7), e69717.
- Sweet M, Craggs J, Robson J, Bythell JC. Assessment of the microbial communities associated with white syndrome and brown jelly syndrome in aquarium corals. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research 2013, 1(1), 20-27.
- Sweet MJ, Smith D, Bythell JC, Craggs J. Changes in microbial diversity associated with two coral speciesrecovering from a stressed state in a public aquarium system. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research 2013, 1(2), 52-60.
- Sweet MJ, Bythell JC. Ciliate and bacterial communities associated with White Syndrome and Brown Band Disease in reef-building corals. Environmental Microbiology 2012, 14(8), 2184-2199.
- Sweet MJ, Jones R, Bythell JC. Coral diseases in aquaria and in nature. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK 2012, 92(4), 791-801.
- Palmer CV, Bythell JC, Willis BL. Enzyme activity demonstrates multiple pathways of innate immunity in Indo-Pacific anthozoans. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 2012, 279(1743), 3879-3887.
- Sweet MJ, Kirkham N, Bendall M, Currey L, Bythell JC, Heupel M. Evidence of Melanoma in Wild Marine Fish Populations. PLoS ONE 2012, 7(8), e41989.
- Palmer CV, Bythell JC, Willis BL. A comparative study of phenoloxidase activity in diseased and bleached colonies of the coral Acropora millepora. Developmental & Comparative Immunology 2011, 35(10), 1098-1101.
- Sweet MJ, Croquer A, Bythell JC. Bacterial assemblages differ between compartments within the coral holobiont. Coral Reefs 2011, 30(1), 39-52.
- Bythell JC, Wild C. Biology and ecology of coral mucus release. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 2011, 408(1-2), 88-93.
- Wild C, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Naumann M, Colombo-Pallotta MF, Fitt W, Ateweberhan M, Iglesias-Prieto R, Palmer C, Bythell JC, Ortiz JC, Loya Y, van Woesik R. Climate change impedes scleractinian corals as primary reef ecosystem engineers. Marine and Freshwater Research 2011, 62(2), 205-215.
- Palmer CV, Traylor-Knowles NG, Willis BL, Bythell JC. Corals use similar immune cells and wound-healing processes as those of higher organisms. PLoS One 2011, 6(8), e23992.
- Sweet MJ, Croquer A, Bythell JC. Development of bacterial biofilms on artificial corals in comparison to surface-associated microbes of hard corals. PLoS One 2011, 6(6), e21195.
- Sweet MJ, Croquer A, Bythell JC. Dynamics of bacterial community development in the reef coral Acropora muricata following experimental antibiotic treatment. Coral Reefs 2011, 30(4), 1121-1133.
- Jatkar AA, Brown BE, Bythell JC, Guppy R, Morris NJ, Pearson JP. Measuring mucus thickness in reef corals using a technique devised for vertebrate applications. Marine Biology 2010, 157(2), 261-267.
- Pantos O, Bythell JC. A novel reef coral symbiosis. Coral Reefs 2010, 29(3), 761-770.
- Jatkar AA, Brown BE, Bythell JC, Guppy R, Morris NJ, Pearson JP. Coral Mucus: The Properties of Its Constituent Mucins. Biomacromolecules 2010, 11(4), 883-888.
- Palmer CV, Bythell JC, Willis BL. Levels of immunity parameters underpin bleaching and disease susceptibility of reef corals. FASEB Journal 2010, 24(6), 1935-1946.
- Sweet M, Croquer A, Bythell J. Temporal and Spatial Patterns in Waterborne Bacterial Communities of an Island Reef System. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 2010, 61(1), 1-11.
- Heidelberg KB, O'Neil KL, Bythell JC, Sebens KP. Vertical distribution and diel patterns of zooplankton abundance and biomass at Conch Reef, Florida Keys (USA). Journal of Plankton Research 2010, 32(1), 75-91.
- HoeghGuldberg O, Loya Y, Bythell J, Fitt W, Gates R, IglesiasPrieto R, Lesser M, McClanahan T, vanWoesik R, Wild C. Bleaching and related ecological factors. Australia: University of Queensland, 2009. CRTR Working Group Findings 2004-2009 004/2009.
- Fitt WK, Gates RD, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Bythell JC, Jatkar A, Grottoli AG, Gomez M, Fisher P, Lajuenesse TC, Pantos O, Iglesias-Prieto R, Franklin DJ, Rodrigues LJ, Torregiani JM, van Woesik R, Lesser MP. Response of two species of Indo-Pacific corals, Porites cylindrica and Stylophora pistillata, to short-term thermal stress: The host does matter in determining the tolerance of corals to bleaching. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 2009, 373(2), 102-110.
- Lindop AAM, Hind EJ, Bythell JC. The unknowns in coral disease identification: An experiment to assess consensus of opinion amongst experts. In: Proc 11th Int Coral Reef Symp. 2009, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
- Naser H, Bythell J, Thomason J. Ecological assessment: An initial evaluation of the ecological input in environmental impact assessment reports in Bahrain. Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 2008, 26(3), 201-208.
- Lesser MP, Bythell JC, Gates RD, Johnstone RW, Hoegh-Guldberg O. Are infectious diseases really killing corals? Alternative interpretations of the experimental and ecological data. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 2007, 346(1-2), 36-44.
- Field SN, Glassom D, Bythell J. Effects of artificial settlement plate materials and methods of deployment on the sessile epibenthic community development in a tropical environment. Coral Reefs 2007, 26(2), 279-289.
- Ledlie MH, Graham NAJ, Bythell JC, Wilson SK, Jennings S, Polunin NVC, Hardcastle J. Phase shifts and the role of herbivory in the resilience of coral reefs. Coral Reefs 2007, 26(3), 641-653.
- Leggat W, Ainsworth T, Bythell J, Dove S, Gates R, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Iglesias-Prieto R, Yellowlees D. The hologenome theory disregards the coral holobiont. Nature Reviews Microbiology 2007, 5(10).
- Pantos O, Bythell JC. Bacterial community structure associated with white band disease in the elkhorn coral Acropora palmata determined using culture-independent 16S rRNA techniques. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 2006, 69(1), 79-88.
- Guppy R, Bythell JC. Environmental effects on bacterial diversity in the surface mucus layer of the reef coral Montastraea faveolata. Marine Ecology Progress Series 2006, 328, 133-142.
- Bythell J, Johnstone R, Pantos O. The influence of microbial communities in mediating enviromental stress events on coral reefs. In: Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, Annual Main Meeting of the Society for Experimental Biology. 2006, Canterbury, UK: Elsevier Inc.
- Brown BE, Bythell JC. Perspectives on mucus secretion in reef corals. Marine Ecology Progress Series 2005, 296, 291-309.
- Dunn SR, Thomason JC, Le Tissier MDA, Bythell JC. Heat stress induces different forms of cell death in sea anemones and their endosymbiotic algae depending on temperature and duration. Cell Death and Differentiation 2004, 11(11), 1213-1222.
- Bythell JC, Pantos O, Richardson LL. White plague, white band, and other "white" diseases. In: Rosenberg, E., Loya, Y, ed. Coral Health and Disease. New York: Springer, 2004, pp.351-365.
- Pantos O, Cooney RP, Le Tissier MDA, Barer MR, O'Donnell AG, Bythell JC. The bacterial ecology of a plague-like disease affecting the Caribbean coral Montastrea annularis. Environmental Microbiology 2003, 5(5), 370-382.
- Rogers C, Gladfelter W, Hubbard D, Gladfelter E, Bythell J, Dunsmore R, Loomis C, Devine B, Hillis-Starr Z, Phillips B. Acropora in the U.S. Virgin Islands: A Wake or an Awakening? A Status Report Prepared for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. In: Proceedings of the Caribbean Acropora Workshop. 2002, Miami, Florida: US Dept of Commerce.
- Cooney RP, Pantos O, Le Tissier MDA, Barer MR, O'Donnell AG, Bythell JC. Characterization of the bacterial consortium associated with black band disease in coral using molecular microbiological techniques. Environmental Microbiology 2002, 4(7), 401-413.
- Dunn SR, Thomason JC, Le Tissier MDA, Bythell JC. Detection of cell death activity during experimentally induced bleaching of the symbiotic sea anemone Aiptasia sp. In: 9th International Coral Reef Symposium. 2002, Bali: ICRS.
- Bythell JC, Barer MR, Cooney RP, Guest JR, O'Donnell AG, Pantos O, Le Tissier MDA. Histopathological methods for the investigation of microbial communities associated with disease lesions in reef corals. Letters in Applied Microbiology 2002, 34(5), 359-364.
- Dunn SR, Bythell JC, Le Tissier MDA, Burnett WJ, Thomason JC. Programmed cell death and cell necrosis activity during hyperthermic stress-induced bleaching of the symbiotic sea anemone Aiptasia sp. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 2002, 272(1), 29-53.
- Bythell J, Pan P, Lee J. Three-dimensional morphometric measurements of reef corals using underwater photogrammetry techniques. Coral Reefs 2001, 20(3), 193-199.
- Bythell JC, Hillis-Starr ZM, Rogers CS. Local variability but landscape stability in coral reef communities following repeated hurricane impacts. Marine Ecology Progress Series 2000, 204, 93-100.
- Walker ST, Mantle D, Bythell JC, Thomason JC. Oxidative-stress: Comparison of species specific and tissue specific effects in the marine bivalves Mytilus edulis (L.) and Dosinia lupinus (L.). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology - B Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2000, 127(3), 347-355.
- Hillis ZM, Bythell JC. "Keep up or give up": hurricanes promote coral survival by interrupting burial from sediment accumulation. CORAL REEFS 1998, 17(3), 262-262.
- BYTHELL JC, GLADFELTER EH, BYTHELL M. CHRONIC AND CATASTROPHIC NATURAL MORTALITY OF 3 COMMON CARIBBEAN REEF CORALS. CORAL REEFS 1993, 12(3-4), 143-152.
- BYTHELL JC, BYTHELL M, GLADFELTER EH. INITIAL RESULTS OF A LONG-TERM CORAL-REEF MONITORING PROGRAM - IMPACT OF HURRICANE HUGO AT BUCK ISLAND REEF NATIONAL MONUMENT, ST-CROIX, UNITED-STATES VIRGIN-ISLANDS. In: JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL MARINE BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY. 1993.