Coral reefs have become increasingly diseased in the last decade and one of the causes is bacterial infections. But now researchers have conducted a study that shows that existing antibiotics can be used to cure infections in a coral reef, just like in humans.
In a press release, the researchers describe how they put the antibiotic amoxicillin in a kind of oitment and rubbed it on infected places in two different coral reefs. The result was that 95 percent of the damage was repaired.
That result was so promising that the researchers will try to make the method efficient for treating big areas of reefs quickly and easily.
"Future research should focus on investigating possible side effects on microbes in coral reefs and surrounding organisms. In addition, more research is needed to optimize dosage and the way we apply the antibiotics so that we can scale up the treatments," says Joshua Voss at FAU Harbor Branch, Coral Reef and Health Ecology Lab, and one of the researchers behind the study, in a press release.
The researchers also want to determine why some areas of the treated reefs were affected by new infections.
"It is possible that what caused the infection still remains in the local environment, and thus it can reinfect the corals when the antibiotic treatment is complete. It could also be that the dose was not high enough or that the treatment did not last long enough to eliminate all harmful bacteria", says Erin N. Shilling at FAU Harbor Branch, Coral Reef and Health Ecology Lab and lead author of the study.
Another area for improvement is, therefore to investigate which doses and treatment times are the optimal ones for different types of corals and damages.
Read the full study here.
Image: Joshua Voss, Ph.D., FAU Harbor Branch, Coral Reef and Health Ecology Lab.