Questions for “A common antibiotic might save some sick corals”

divers testing coral disease treatments

Divers testing treatments for a deadly coral disease apply chlorinated epoxy to great star corals off the coast of Florida.

E.N. Shilling, I.R. Combs and J.D. Voss/Scientific Reports 2021

To accompany “A common antibiotic might save some sick corals


Before Reading:

1.  What are antibiotics and what types of conditions are they typically used to treat?

2.  What are corals and where do you find them? What types of sicknesses have some of them been experiencing in recent decades?

During Reading:

1.  What is skittle-D? When was it discovered and where?

2.  What medicine has just been reported as a possible treatment for skittle-D?

3.  What was the second treatment tried against skittle-D in the new trial by Erin Shilling and her colleagues? Why did scientists dig a trench around diseased coral tissues before treating them?

4.  What share of diseased corals treated with the drug recovered within three months?

5.  If 20 percent of the diseased coral that had been given the non-drug treatment recovered, why are the researchers not pointing to it as useful?

6.  How do the new findings compare against still-unpublished data by Karen Neely’s team?

7.  If the drug treatment appears to virtually wipe out the skittle-D, why do the researchers say that affected corals will likely have to be retreated?

After Reading:

1.  Corals are an important ecosystem in the oceans. Do some research and list at least three benefits they provide. Against this backdrop, how excited should we be about the new treatment? Why?

2.  Corals are part of the natural world and tend to reside outside the territorial waters of most nations. It will take time and money to treat any sick corals. Who do you think should pay to buy the medicine and apply it? Explain your reasoning.