a person with blue gloves holds a petri dish which has red streaks across it

Coral nutrition and probiotics

Coral nutrition

If mass-production of corals in captivity is to be successful, we need to reduce the time the corals spend in tanks before they are deployed on the reef. 

In the field, corals obtain sugars (their ‘fast food’) from their symbiotic algae. But most other nutrients are obtained when they feed on live plankton. We have developed new microencapsulated diets, which are small nutrient packages (not alive), that coral recruits and adult corals accept and ingest. 

In 2023, we will study the growth and nutritional status of coral recruits fed two of these new diets using different dosing strategies and compare it with recruits fed a traditional aquaculture live feed.  

Coral probiotics

We are also developing coral probiotics, which are ‘good bacteria’ that may help the coral fight off disease, improve their digestion and stimulate growth and development. This is similar to including yoghurt in the diet of people. The ‘good bacteria’ that we wish to use live naturally in coral. 

Over the past two years, we have successfully tested various probiotic strains and ways to deliver them to young corals to improve their growth and health. 

In 2023, we will test individual probiotic candidate strains with coral recruits and assess if they can increase the coral’s tolerance to pathogens under elevated temperatures.


Dr Lone Hoj (AIMS)

Dr David Francis (Deakin University)

Dr Tom Mock (Deakin University)

Dr Katarina Damjanovic

Dr Deepa Varkey

Dr Patrick Laffy

Dr Yun Kit Yeoh

Prof. David Bourne (JCU)

Callaway Thatcher (AIMS@JCU)

Sara Godinez

Aman Gosain (Deakin University)

This research is supported by: 

The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program funded by the Partnership between the Australian Government's Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation