Biocontrol of crown-of-thorns starfish using genomics and proteomics (2018–2021)
This project aims to address a major threat to coral reefs: destructive outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns starfish, a voracious predator of corals. This project builds upon our recent sequencing of COTS genome and proteomes to identify communication factors that attract COTS to each other. Based on these natural attractants, we will fabricate COTS-specific baits for future large scale deployment. Currently COTS are culled using expensive diver-based approaches. Outcomes for this project are expected to augment, if not alleviate, these inefficient biocontrol approaches and provide an environmentally-benign and scalable solution to one of the biggest threats to the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef and reefs worldwide.