Research Allows Resuscitation of Dead corals

Coral bleaching | The Maldives | Credit: The Ocean Agency / Xl Catlin Seaview Survey | 

Coral reefs account for only 0.01% of the seabed, but for 27% of marine biodiversity. In other words, they shelter one in four species, including 65% of the fish. The numbers, which attest to the importance of this ecosystem, also justify the concern of thousands of scientists in the search for solutions that guarantee the conservation of corals, threatened by ocean pollution and global warming.

Research by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), in partnership with AquaRio, is the new hope to resuscitate dead zones around the planet.

With rising ocean temperatures, the algae that live inside the corals stop making photosynthesis, start producing free radicals and, therefore, are expelled from the coral. Without them, corals are depleted of nutrients and lose their colour, leading to death. This phenomenon is called bleaching. And this has already decimated about a third of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

In Brazil, it was observed along at least two thousand kilometres of coastline, including Abrolhos and Búzios. “Research, produced in Rio, suggests the use of probiotics could prevent coral bleaching,” explains biologist Gustavo Duarte, from UFRJ, an associate researcher at AquaRio.

Raja Ampat has Healthy Corals

Healthy Coral Reef | Raja Ampat, Indonesia | Credit: Yen-YiLee / Coral reef image bank |

Brazil is leading the race to save coral reefs. Australia is one of 12 nations that follow results obtained in the study undertaken in Rio.

Saudi Arabia, United States, Germany, Portugal and England are also in the list.OsoBiotechnological Solutions.UFRJ’s Laboratory of Microbial and Molecular Ecology has been working since 2010, with biotechnological solutions.


Initially, it developed a compound of microorganisms capable of protecting Brazilian corals from oil spills. From those results, it expanded the search for microorganisms that would combat the greatest threat: climate change.

Under normal conditions, corals live at 28ºC, but three degrees in excess of that are enough for them to start dying. A reality aggravated by phenomena such as El Nino.

To prevent such damage, researchers have created a substance made up of seven natural bacteria. Tests have shown that they greatly reduce bleaching effects.

Currently, the project, which already has the partnership of two other foreign universities, Derby, England, and Sydney, Australia, is quickly moving towards a phase of coral re-composition.