Coral Probiotics: Premise, Promise, Prospects

Annu Rev Anim Biosci. 2021 Feb 16;9:265-288. doi: 10.1146/annurev-animal-090120-115444. Epub 2020 Dec 15.


The use of Beneficial Microorganisms for Corals (BMCs) has been proposed recently as a tool for the improvement of coral health, with knowledge in this research topic advancing rapidly. BMCs are defined as consortia of microorganisms that contribute to coral health through mechanisms that include (a) promoting coral nutrition and growth, (b) mitigating stress and impacts of toxic compounds, (c) deterring pathogens, and (d) benefiting early life-stage development. Here, we review the current proposed BMC approach and outline the studies that have proven its potential to increase coral resilience to stress. We revisit and expand the list of putative beneficial microorganisms associated with corals and their proposed mechanismsthat facilitate improved host performance. Further, we discuss the caveats and bottlenecks affecting the efficacy of BMCs and close by focusing on the next steps to facilitate application at larger scales that can improve outcomes for corals and reefs globally.

Keywords: BMCs; Beneficial Microorganisms for Corals; coral reef; environmental adaptation; holobiont; microbiome; probiotics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthozoa / microbiology*
  • Anthozoa / physiology
  • Dinoflagellida
  • Microbiota
  • Probiotics*
  • Symbiosis