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Development of Probiotics and Alternative Treatments for SCTLD

Written by: Julie Meyer

The effectiveness and feasibility of probiotics has been demonstrated in aquatic and terrestrial systems, including humans. Likewise, results from collaborators at the Smithsonian Marine Station suggest that active SCTLD lesions can be slowed or stopped with probiotic treatment and could potentially be used as a treatment for corals.

The overall goals of this project were to identify potential factors preventing effective probiotic treatments, to sequence the genomes of potential probiotic bacteria to understand their biochemical and biosynthetic capacity, and to determine the effects of probiotic treatments on coral microbiomes.

Our results suggest that the probiotic strain Pseudoalteromonas McH1-7 may become established with repeated paste applications, but treatments do not create a bloom of the probiotic strain. Most of the variation in microbial community structure was not explained by treatment, coral health, collection date, colony, or combinations of these factors. Therefore, we can conclude that the repeated application of probiotic bacteria or placebos did not substantially alter the established Montastraea cavernosa microbial communities in this study. 

Vibrio coralliilyticus strains were present at very low levels throughout the study period and the relative abundance of all vibrios was not correlated with treatment type, coral tissue health state or collection date

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