Is there anything vinegar can’t do? It’s an all-purpose cleaner, stain remover, deodorizer, fabric softener and salad dressing, among other household uses.

And according to new research, we can add yet another skill to its repertoire: helping protect Earth’s largest coral-reef ecosystem from a plague of spiky marauders.

The crown-of-thorns starfish has been decimating Australia’s Great Barrier Reef for years, a natural predator run amok due to environmental changes like nutrient runoff from land and depletion of its own predators. Coral cover on surveyed reefs has declined by 50 percent in the past 30 years, according to Australian authorities, and nearly half of that damage is due to crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS), which is the only species of sea star known to prey directly on live coral. Read more.