Identifying and understanding the cues that trigger effective and reliable settlement of coral larvae across a diverse range of species is crucial for reef restoration initiatives. While it is well-established that crustose coralline algae (CCA) play a significant role in the induction of larval settlement for Acroporid corals, this is not always the case for other coral genera, and in some instances microbial biofilms alone can trigger settlement without the presence of CCA. However, little is known about the complex microbial interactions required to provide a suitable coral settlement environment. While coral larvae can differentiate between bioflm characterisitcs including bacterial density, biochemical signals and community composition, it is still unknown which specific microbial taxa, genes or pathways are responsible for producing these settlement cues. Furthermore, the complex interactions between microorganisms may contribute to the larval recruitment process and on the other hand, some microbes may act as in inhibitors of settlement. This project aims to identify microorganisms involved in inducing/inhibiting settlement and metamorphosis of coral larvae and attempt to cultivate inductive taxa to produce a broad-spectrum larval settlement cue for use in coral aquaculture. The project is in collaboration with researchers at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and is part of the multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program funded by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Staff: 
Principal investigator: Dr. Inka Vanwonterghem
Collaborators: 
Australian Institute of Marine Science:
Dr. Sara Bell (Experimental Scientist)
Swansea University:
Dr. Miguel Lurgi (Senior Lecturer)

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