Coral reefs play a key role in maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem. But despite their significance, global warming, ocean acidification, overfishing, pollution are ruining them in every ocean.
Scientists across the world are pouring in their effort to find a way to save them. And a recent success in one of the experiments has given us a light of hope to revive the dying coral reefs.
The researchers have developed probiotics for the dying coral Reefs which proved to be effective in the experiments.
Image credit: Christopher Brunner
According to the research report published in Science Advances on August 13, administering a mix of beneficial bacteria into the corals averted the possible death by the heatwave that was simulated in an aquarium.
And more than 40% of the corals that were given a benign saline solution did not make it through the same marine conditions.
“The results are incredibly promising,” said Blake Ushijima, a microbiologist, the University of North Carolina who was not involved in the studies.
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Corals are not single organisms but a group of different organisms living in a symbiotic relationship: coral polyps, algae, and scores of bacteria.
These symbiotic organisms together create corals (coral holobiont) and corals together create magnificent coral reefs.
These coral reefs form the backbone of most marine biodiverse ecosystems on the planet.
In the experiment, the researchers created 10 aquaria at normal temp (26°C) with marine heatwave simulation, each aquarium had 4 fragments of Mussismilia hispida hard corals, tuning up the temperature to 30°C for ten days.
And during the heatwave simulation, 50% of the corals were dosed with 6 bacterial strains from M. hispida every 3 days and every 5 days after the heatwave simulation.
The other 50% were given benign saline solution in the same intervals of time for over 75 days.
And the obtained results looked promising, both coral groups were bleached, but the group with probiotic treatment survived.
“That was surprising and super exciting,” said Raquel Peixoto, a marine ecologist at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.
The team stated that the probiotic solution was helping the corals in recovery by inducing metabolic and genetic changes in the host.
Marine biologist Kimberly Ritchie stated that “climate change is affecting coral reefs faster than they can adapt.”
Peixoto and her team are preparing to give this a shot in the real wild coral reef to see the probiotic’s efficiency in the wild.
However, the scientists urged that the changes must happen from the root of the problem.
“Overall, probiotics aren’t going to be a silver bullet. The only thing that will save the coral reefs is mitigating Co2 emissions to reduce global warming,” Peixoto added.