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Coral survives the heat with the help of bacteria

KAUST researchers are exploring the use of probiotic bacteria to increase coral survival after a bleaching event. Credits: © 2021 KAUST; Morgan Bennett Smith.

New studies show that treating corals with a beneficial bacterial probiotic cocktail improves survival after the bleaching phenomenon. This approach can be performed before the predicted heat wave to help the coral recover from high seawater temperatures.


Climate change raises the temperature of the ocean, disrupting the relationship between coral and its symbiotic photosynthetic algae, causing the coral to bleach and even die. By manipulating the coral microbiota, KAUST researchers Stress tolerance By using coral, or microorganisms that are beneficial to BMC.

To test this, the team selected six beneficial bacterial strains isolated from Coral Mussismilia hispida Used them to inoculate experimental cultures M. Hispida.. At the same time, the coral was exposed to heat stress treatment and the temperature rose to 30 ° C in 10 days and then dropped to 26 ° C. Researchers monitored coral health and measured microbial diversity and metabolic parameters in treatment with or without probiotics or heat stress.

At first there was no difference. Corals with and without probiotics reacted similarly at peak temperatures, both bleached. “At that point in the experiment, well, OK, I thought I’d see a similar response between treatments,” recalls Erika Santoro, the lead author of the study, now a postdoctoral fellow at KAUST. “But after lowering the temperature, we observed a plot twist from the group we treated. Probiotics BMC. It was a really nice surprise. “

Probiotic treatment improved coral response and recovery after heat stress events and increased survival from 60% to 100%. Researchers interpret this as BMC helping holobiont reduce the effects of “post-heat stress disorders” and reconstruct their physiological and metabolic profiles.

This study also describes some of the protective molecular mechanisms.Between Recovery periodBMC-treated coral had low expression of genes involved in apoptosis and cell remodeling and increased expression of heat. stress Protective gene. BMC treatment also altered the profile of the microbiome by incorporating some beneficial bacterial and other population structural changes.

BMC Valuable tool To deal with the result of Climate changeHowever, Santoro emphasizes that it is not a silver bullet. “The use of probiotics is an effective tool to help corals deal with it. Thermal stress, But we also need to consider other interventions, “she says. Coral will require all these interventions. “

The study is published at Science Advances..


Use of probiotic bacteria to protect against coral bleaching


For more information:
Manipulation of the coral microbial flora induces metabolic and genetic remodeling to reduce heat stress and avoid mortality. Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abg3088

Quote: Coral survives the heat with the help of bacteria (August 13, 2021).

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Coral survives the heat with the help of bacteria

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