Boosting coral health in a warming ocean
Giving corals a dose of probiotics to boost health and improves survival during heat stress.
The Great Barrier Reef is a unique and critical ecosystem already seeing the effects of climate change with warmer water temperatures and coral bleaching threatening our Reef and the marine life that call it home.
Probiotics have been widely and successfully used to improve both human and animal health. However, their use in marine ecosystems has been largely unexplored.
Until now. Just like us, corals rely on a host of good bacteria to help keep them healthy and, just like us, the balance between good and bad bacteria is often disrupted in times of stress.
How does is it work?
Pioneering research, supported by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the Tiffany Foundation, revealed that, like humans, corals could also be given probiotics to improve their health and resilience to stresses related to climate change, such as rising water temperatures.
Now, as part of our partnership in the Life-Space Reef Probiotics Project, researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science are exploring how targeted probiotic treatments can help to enhance baby coral settlement, growth and resistance to stress and disease.
Coral probiotics may support large scale production of new corals in aquaculture
This innovative research will be used to boost the health of corals reared in labs before they are transported out to the Reef as part of the world’s largest coral reef program.
Tests are underway on different species of coral to refine which groups of good bacteria are the best for each species.
New methods are also being investigated to scale up the application of probiotics, to support the production of millions of new corals each year.
The Life-Space Reef Probiotics Project is funded by Life-Space Probiotics.
The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program is the world’s largest effort to help a significant ecosystem survive climate change. Our partners include the Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO, Southern Cross University, James Cook University, QUT and the University of Queensland.