9 Dec 2021

Scientists to Boost Coral Growth in Laboratory to Counter Global Warming

Scientists to Boost Coral Growth in Laboratory to Counter Global Warming

The Index Today

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The Index Today — Scientists are looking to speed up coral growth by breeding them in the laboratory. Researchers at the University of Hawaii are heading the study which involves collecting egg and sperm from corals in the ocean to be later bred in the laboratory. The aim of this experiment is to increase coral breeding through assisted evolution in the face of global warming.

Closely mirroring Charles Darwin’s concept of evolution, this experiment intends to make corals more resistant to the risks posed by global warming. To test their theory, scientists are following a three-step approach in this study. First, corals are selectively bred based on desirable traits that increase their chances of survival under adverse conditions. This is followed by the process of acclimation where the corals are artificially subjected to high temperatures to check their tolerance for heat. Finally, the algae that nourishes the corals are altered in the laboratory.

Defending the experiment against skepticism from others in the scientific community, Kira Hughes, the project manager of the study said, “We have to intervene in order to make a change for coral reefs to survive into the future.”

Although the study has been positively received by scientists from around the world, it still faces the challenge of scalability. James Guest, a U.K.-based coral ecologist, contends that the experiment needs a strategy that would ensure an economic way of introducing the lab-bred corals into the ocean.

©Photo: AP Photo/Caleb Jones