This could be the key to saving the Great Barrier Reef

GOOD bacteria could be the key to keeping coral healthy and able to withstand the impacts of global warming.

A new study published in the Science journal highlights the role of good bacteria in coral health - and researchers say it may help secure the long-term survival of reefs worldwide.

James Cook University's Dr Tracy Ainsworth, who led the study, said healthy corals interacted with "complex communities" of good bacteria.

"It is very likely that these micro-organisms play a pivotal role in the capacity of coral to recover from bouts of bleaching caused by rising temperatures," she said.

Co-author Dr Ruth Gates from the University of Hawaii said facilitating coral survival was a growing area of research.

"To do this we need to explore and understand the bacteria that help keep corals and coral reefs healthy," Dr Gates said.