Can genetic engineering save the world’s coral reefs from climate change?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
4-24-2019 cs n bayvanoppen px
Coral researchers Line Bay (left) and Madeleine van Oppen (right) want to figure out how to help corals adapt to warming seas, before it is too late. Image: Cameron Laird

The relentless rise of global temperatures is imperiling coral reefs around the world. Just 75 kilometers offshore from the research center, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—the world’s largest—has been battered by a string of marine heat waves that have killed half its coral. The threat has transformed [Madeleine] Van Oppen into a leading advocate for something considered radical just a few years ago: creating breeds of coral that can withstand underwater heat waves.

Van Oppen and others are re-engineering corals with techniques as old as the domestication of plants and as new as the latest gene-editing tools. And the researchers are adopting attitudes more common to free-wheeling Silicon Valley startups than the methodical world of conservation science.

Related article:  Engineering plants to rapidly repair heat damage could preserve crop yields as climate changes

Genetically engineering corals to make them better able to withstand heat and resist bleaching is among the possibilities, [coral geneticist Line] Bay says. She concedes that the idea will face resistance, like all proposals to release modified organisms into the environment. But that doesn’t mean it should be shelved, she says. “The worst thing that we could do is ignore the genetic engineering because it’s frightening for some people, and then get 10 or 15 years down the road and realize it’s the only option.”

Read full, original post: Researchers embrace a radical idea: engineering coral to cope with climate change

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Trending green and going great — Every state in the US seeing decreased cases of COVID

Infographic: Trending green and going great — Every state in the US seeing decreased cases of COVID

The U.S. averaged fewer than 40,000 new cases per day over the past week. That’s a 21% improvement over the ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists