The Life-Space Reef Probiotics Project

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's 7 natural wonders. Sadly, due to a combination of climate change and local impacts, the Reef is not able to recover and adapt fast enough and its future survival is under threat. While the world works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there is an urgent need to research and deploy new innovative solutions that restore and help the Reef become more resilient in the face of climate change. In a world-leading probiotics project, Life-Space is partnering with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation for the Life-Space Reef Probiotics Project. This project is investigating the benefits and support that probiotics can have on the health of corals, which will play a vital role in restoring coral reefs and boosting their resilience.

How does the project work?

The project is helping to pioneer research on probiotics' benefits on baby coral, and how the application in the lab could boost their health and increase their tolerance to warmer ocean temperatures. Ideally, this project would help boost lab coral production, with the ability to produce between one million corals per year. A project at this scale is unprecedented but will be a major step towards restoring both the Great Barrier Reef and reefs globally.

Scientists are already moving new and healthy baby coral onto the Great Barrier Reef hoping to help the reefs adapt and recover. Unfortunately, the lifespan or survival rate of baby coral, both in a lab and in the ocean, isn’t the strongest, this is where the Life-Space Reef Probiotics Project comes in.

The progress so far:

So far this world-first project has helped scientists isolate and screen over 850 bacterial strains and their potential to be successful probiotic candidates for coral species, with investigations into more strains and coral still ongoing.

A prototype diet has also been rolled out to feed high-priority coral species, with five species successfully adopting the diet, so far.

What happens next?

Boosting- This innovative research will be used to boost the health of corals raised in labs, with the aim to transport strong, healthy corals onto the Great Barrier Reef as part of the world’s largest coral reef program.

Broadening- Tests are underway on a wider range of coral species, helping research and refine which groups of good bacteria are the best for each species.

Building- New methods of probiotic application have begun being investigated to help keep up with and support the production of millions of new corals each year.

Researchers checking coral spawn under red light during coral spawning at AIMS SeaSimulator. Credit: Dorian Tsai, QUT

Researchers at work at the AIMS National SeaSimulator during spawning 2021 Credit: Marie Roman, AIMS

Check out what the Life-Space Reef Probiotics Project is achieving.

Learn about the project

The Great Barrier Reef needs your help.

Take Action