Scientists have discovered a chlamydia-like bacteria in corals of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef that may aid researchers in comprehending the coral microbiome and its potential effect on coral reef well-being.
It’s the first time Chlamydiales, a bacteria responsible for chlamydia in mammals, has been documented in corals.
Dr. Justin Maire, the principal investigator from the University of Melbourne, said:
“The newfound Chlamydiales share many resemblances with mammalian pathogens, but it remains uncertain whether they are detrimental or advantageous to corals. There is a possibility that this bacterium obtains nutrients and energy from other bacteria associated with corals, and for those of us studying coral biology, the prospect of bacterial interactions within coral tissues is quite exhilarating.”
Meanwhile, another bacteria that was identified during the study, Endozoicomonas, is known to be widespread in corals and is generally considered beneficial due to its ability to generate B vitamins and antimicrobial compounds.
University of Melbourne Professor Madeleine van Oppen said:
“One of the focal points in my laboratory is the development of bacterial probiotics for corals, which can enhance their resistance to thermal stress and increase survival rates caused by climate warming. We still possess limited knowledge about the functions of bacteria associated with corals, and this new study will help us ascertain whether probiotics are a viable solution and if bacteria such as Endozoicomonas are the most suitable candidates for the task.”
Read the full study here.