Using probiotics to fight a lethal coral disease

Project title: Giving Caribbean corals a future: SCTLD and the use of probiotics in coral restoration projects
Project lead: Valeria Pizarro
Nations involved: USA, Colombia
Supporting institutions: University of North Carolina Wilmington, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Blue Indigo Foundation, CORALINA (Corporation for the sustainable development of the Archipelago of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, ECOMARES foundation
Total budget: $1,459,388
Duration: 36 months

Stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) is a highly lethal coral disease that has spread rapidly throughout the Caribbean. The disease affects over 20 coral species and is now present on reefs in 18 countries and territories. There is currently no cure for this infection, however individual coral colonies can be saved with antibiotics (e.g., amoxicillin). This project aims to slow the spread and mitigate the effects of this disease around San Andres Island, Colombia using probiotics as an alternative to antibiotics. Probiotics have the potential to protect healthy colonies, stop lesion progression, and prevent disease transmission. This project will specifically compare four species of corals in colonies around San Andrés Island which have shown potential signs of resistance to the disease, and the results will be used to develop future probiotic treatments.