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Probiotics Show Promise for Coral Disease

Posted on Sep 3, 2019 by in The OFI Blog |

George Burch Fellow Dr. Blake Ushijima has worked with a large team of researchers from the Smithsonian Marine Station (SMS) and scientists at other institutions to identify at least one probiotic, a member of the beneficial bacterial community living on healthy great star corals (Montastraea cavernosa), which seems to contribute to disease resistance.

At SMS, Blake Ushijima is searching for the pathogenic causes of stony coral tissue loss disease. (Photo: Olivia Carmack)

Since the first disease signs appeared near Miami in late 2014, stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) has now spread to affect more than 96,000 acres of coral reef, stretching 360 miles from Fort Lauderdale in the north to Eastern Dry Rocks in the lower Keys. As of early 2019, observers reported that the disease spread to the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic, and in July, the first signs were reported in Belize.

Maurizio Martinelli, the coordinator for state and federal coral disease response efforts with Florida Sea Grant, says Ushijima’s work is one of the first promising advances that may eventually result in a treatment option for whole colonies in the reef tract.

To read more, please click here for the full article written by Michelle Donahue.