Development of a portable toolkit to diagnose coral thermal stress

Zhuolun Meng, Amanda Williams, Pinky Liau, Timothy G. Stephens, Crawford Drury, Eric N. Chiles, Xiaoyang Su, Mehdi Javanmard, Debashish Bhattacharya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Coral bleaching, precipitated by the expulsion of the algal symbionts that provide colonies with fixed carbon is a global threat to reef survival. To protect corals from anthropogenic stress, portable tools are needed to detect and diagnose stress syndromes and assess population health prior to extensive bleaching. Here, medical grade Urinalysis strips, used to detect an array of disease markers in humans, were tested on the lab stressed Hawaiian coral species, Montipora capitata (stress resistant) and Pocillopora acuta (stress sensitive), as well as samples from nature that also included Porites compressa. Of the 10 diagnostic reagent tests on these strips, two appear most applicable to corals: ketone and leukocytes. The test strip results from M. capitata were explored using existing transcriptomic data from the same samples and provided evidence of the stress syndromes detected by the strips. We designed a 3D printed smartphone holder and image processing software for field analysis of test strips (TestStripDX) and devised a simple strategy to generate color scores for corals (reflecting extent of bleaching) using a smartphone camera (CoralDX). Our approaches provide field deployable methods, that can be improved in the future (e.g., coral-specific stress test strips) to assess reef health using inexpensive tools and freely available software.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14398
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Development of a portable toolkit to diagnose coral thermal stress'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this