A plan to save corals in a warming ocean


Two scientists are looking at ways to save the worlds coral reefs, but in a very controversial way, by speeding up evolution. The two scientists, Ruth Gates and Madeleine van Oppen of the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, have decided to focus on the corals that do not eject their zooxanthellae during a bleaching event in an effort to make the reefs more resilient to rising sea temperatures.

In their lab environment, the scientists have started with the microbiome. They’ve inoculated various coral larvae with different bacteria strains to determine which are most resilient to increased temperatures and acidity.

Madeleine van Oppen has this to say about their research: “No one’s looked at how the microbiome [the community of bacteria associated with an organism] impacts corals from early life stages. That’s what we’re trying to find out.

in 2013, the scientists won the Paul G. Allen Ocean Challenge for their proposed experiments in evolving corals.

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