Probiotics Might Save World’s Endangered Coral Reefs

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Coral reefs are the most endangered species living on Earth. Ocean warming triggered by climate change, which causes coral bleaching, along with diseases, affects the corals more than ever. While for the global warming the directives to keep greenhouse gas emission under some stringent limits are the solutions, for the illnesses that affect the coral reefs, there are some other treatments. According to recent research, probiotics might save the world’s endangered coral reefs.

Just like us, the corals also depend on a microbial flora to survive. And just like in humans, when an imbalance occurs at the level of those microbes, the whole organism is affected.

“It’s just like us. If you’re healthier, you’re more resistant to disease,” said Raquel Peixoto, a microbiologist at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the leading author of the new study that concluded that probiotics might save world’s endangered coral reefs.

Probiotics Might Save World’s Endangered Coral Reefs

Raquel Peixoto and her co-workers studied cauliflower corals, a species of stony coral, and sampled the symbiotic bacteria that live on this coral species. Then, the researchers injected more of the beneficial bacteria back into a group of coral to see the results. Accordingly, the corals that received more probiotics than the others were in better health than those that had not.

“We’ve been trying to minimize the risk by using native bacteria. As these bacteria are already there, it’s very unlikely that they can cause any harm,” said Peixoto. On the other hand, however, the scientists are reserved to implement this method to tackle coral reefs diseases since this method might curve the coral reefs’ ability to deal with ocean warming. And that because some of the bacteria populating corals might mutate to fight off climate change and by injecting new bacteria the mutations might not occur.

“You could be harming your readaptation potential if you keep reintroducing non-resistant bacteria,” also said Becky Twohey from the Coral Reef Alliance. “It’s very likely that the reefs we have that survive tomorrow are going to be very different than the reefs we have today,” she added.


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