Newly Discovered Probiotic Could Protect Caribbean Corals Threatened by Deadly, Devastating Disease
Published:03 May2023    Source:Smithsonian

The probiotic treatment, described in a paper published today in Communications Biology, provides an alternative to the use of the broad-spectrum antibiotic amoxicillin, which has so far been the only proven treatment for the disease but which runs the risk of promoting antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Since its discovery in Florida in 2014, cases of SCTLD have been confirmed in at least 20 countries. The precise cause of the malady remains unknown but once a coral is infected, its colony of polyps can die within weeks.Though the precise cause of SCTLD is unknown, the efficacy of antibiotics as a treatment suggested pathogenic bacteria were somehow involved in the progression of the disease.
The potential of this newly identified probiotic to help Florida's embattled corals without the danger of inadvertently spawning antibiotic resistant bacteria represents some urgently needed good news.There is a need to work on improved delivery mechanisms if this probiotic is going to be used at scale in the field. Currently, the primary method of applying this coral probiotic is to essentially wrap the coral in a plastic bag to create a mini aquarium and then inject the helpful bacteria. However, it remains to be seen whether the bacterial strain isolated from the great star coral will have the same curative and prophylactic effects for other species of coral.