"Human Fecal Waste Is Coral Killer, Research Shows"

"A human fecal bacterium kills coral, new research shows, and U.S. scientists say this is a warning to Florida and the Caribbean to protect prized reefs from sewage or face a threat to a key pillar of their tourism."

"In an article published on Wednesday in the PLoS ONE scientific journal, U.S. researchers said they had identified a bacterium from human fecal waste as a killer of common Caribbean elkhorn coral, whose spiky, layered, ochre-colored growths populate reefs off Florida and across the Caribbean.

The bacterium, Serratia marcescens, causes a coral disease known as "white pox," producing leprosy-like lesions that eat away at, and kill, the coral, said the report by the scientists from Georgia and Florida universities.

"This strain that kills coral comes only from human beings," James W. Porter of the University of Georgia's Odum School of Ecology, one of the report's authors, told Reuters."

Pascal Fletcher reports for Reuters August 19, 2011.

Source: Reuters, 08/19/2011