Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University have taken a new turn in the search for understanding the relationship between corals and microbes. On each reef corals live together in harmony with microorganisms, all playing their differing roles in reef interaction. “Facilitating coral survival and promoting coral recovery are growing areas of research for coral reef scientists,” says co-author Dr. Ruth Gates from Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai’i. “To do this we need to explore and understand the bacteria that help keep corals and coral reefs healthy.” “Preventing physical contact with corals and maintaining high water quality on reefs during stress events will reduce stress loads on corals and creates the best case scenario for survival and recovery,” added Dr. Gates.
Published in the journal Science this latest research highlights the importance of beneficial bacteria to the coral community, and further explains how “good” bacteria is needed for corals to recuperate from bleaching events. “Healthy corals interact with complex communities of beneficial microbes or ‘good bacteria. It is very likely that these microorganisms play a pivotal role in the capacity of coral to recover from bouts of bleaching caused by rising temperatures.” says Dr. Tracy Ainsworth lead researcher from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. The importance of knowing which bacteria assists in the recovery of corals suffering from bleaching events, can in turn help scientist better understand and address these events. “We know that lasting changes to the community of beneficial bacteria affects important aspects of the function of host organisms such as humans or corals, including their ability to withstand further stress, corals rely on good bacteria but crucially we don’t yet understand these microbes well enough to know how they influence coral survival.” added Ainsworth, but It is with this research that scientists can better approach the relationships between bacteria and coral. Read more here!
Photo Credit: Raphael Ritson-Williams