A critical step in the life cycle of a coral is when the free-swimming larvae find a surface to settle on. For each settled larva, the selected spot is where they will grow into a juvenile coral and spend their life. The settlement process is controlled by multiple factors, including the detection of chemical signals that indicate a good home.
Identifying and applying microorganisms that produce such signals can assist the successful development of large-scale coral aquaculture.
In 2021 and 2022, we investigated the relationship between the surfaces where coral larvae were settling and the thin layer of microbes (biofilm) on those surfaces using molecular analyses. With the help of advanced statistical approaches, we identified microorganisms that are associated with high settlement success.
In parallel, we successfully isolated and cultured microorganisms from these biofilms and seawater, including many bacteria that are related to those identified as possible producers of settlement inducing chemistry.
In 2023, we are ready to test if our suspected signal-producers do indeed induce settlement of coral larvae.
Feature image: Felicity Kuek
Dr Laura Rix (UQ)
Dr Paul O’Brien (UQ)
Dr Sara Bell
Dr Felicity Kuek (UQ)
This research is supported by
This page was updated in November 2023.