Genetically engineered coral might bring bleached coral reefs back to life

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A coral reef takes thousands of years to build, yet can vanish in an instant.

The culprit is usually coral bleaching, a disease exacerbated by warming waters that today threatens reefs around the globe.

“As awful as it was, that bleaching event was a wake-up call,” says Rachel Levin, a molecular biologist who recently proposed a bold technique to save these key ecosystems. Her idea, published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, is simple: Rather than finding healthy symbionts to repopulate bleached coral in nature, engineer them in the lab instead. Given that this would require tampering with nature in a significant way, the proposal is likely to stir controversial waters.

When it comes to human health … scientists have been willing to try more drastic techniques, such as releasing mosquitoes genetically programmed to pass on lethal genes. The genetic modifications needed to save corals, Levin argues, would not be nearly as extreme.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post:A Blueprint for Genetically Engineering a Super Coral