Lab-grown Coral Reef

After decades of accumulating damage, some scientists argue that half the coral reefs that existed in the early 20th century are gone. Coral reefs are particularly sensitive to heat stress and are likely to be among the earliest victims of global warming. However, a group of experts has decided to help the corals survive, New York Times reports. Dr. Cantin, with the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, conducts his work using high-tech aquarium facility called “sea simulator” with precise, computer-controlled conditions that are designed for long-term coral experiments. His team harvests corals and tests them for resilience in this artificial environment, with conditions mimicing those predicted for the years 2050 and 2100. By picking the corals that most successfully adapt and breeding them together, the goal is to grow future generations of tougher reefs and build an ecosystem capable of surviving global warming. The team in Australia is not the only to try a genetic approach to saving corals – researchers in Florida, Hawaii, and in the Caribbean are joining the efforts too.

October 2017