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STATES CHRONICLE – Although they occupy a small surface in the ocean (0.1 percent), coral reefs are still extremely important for marine life. They shelter a big percentage of the creatures living in the ocean, so their survival is extremely important for the survival of many other species. Therefore, a team of researchers thought about genetically manipulating corals to make them stronger.
Coral reefs might be wiped out soon enough
Coral reefs are extremely endangered by global warming. As the climate is changing and the temperatures are getting higher, they have a hard time adapting to these new conditions. This is a direct cause of greenhouse gas emissions, which heat up the oceans. Moreover, they also produce storms, which are another big threat to the corals.
The survival of the coral reefs is granted by the algae which live on them. They represent their main source of energy, as they absorb sunlight. However, these storms and high ocean temperatures affect the algae, which then leads to the corals losing their color. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the best examples, which suffered massive coral bleaching in only two years.
Researchers discovered how to slow down their degrading process
This is an extremely serious problem and, if these storms keep going like that, coral reefs might disappear by year 2050. Therefore, a team of researchers thought it was time to take some experimental solutions to protect corals. These include genetic editing to make them more resistant, and some treatments to make them healthier.
Since they don’t want anything to be artificial, they are not genetically modifying the organisms and then introducing them in their natural habitat. What they do resembles what animal breeders do, namely selecting the most successful specimens and carefully assisting their development. Through their experiments, they speed up the corals’ evolution so that they can better adapt to changing temperatures.
The experiments have been successful so far, and this might constitute one possible solution to slow down the corals’ path to extinction. However, this won’t work permanently if the environment keeps degrading at rapid rates.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons