Could genetic modification be the key in saving Great Barrier Reef coral?

The Australian Government's Marine Research agency is exploring genetically altering species of coral to help them cope with rising sea temperatures.

Scientists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science have partnered with the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology to look at how genetically modifying coral could enhance their adaptation qualities. These studies stand as the first conservation- based and non- commercial attempts of genetic modification yet.

The reef's damage in the future is almost certain, with the coral cover plummeting below 10%. These reductions will occur with 1 degrees Celsius to 2 degrees Celsius, in areas that are already dealing with other impacts such as fishing and pollution. Thus, according to the facts of climate change and pollution, the Great Barrier Reef is in whole lot of trouble.

That is why scientists are now exploring more radical solutions to help coral deal with the rapidly changing climate and rising sea temperatures.

Coral from the central part of the reef has been crossed with coral from the colder reaches of the southern reef, hoping the resulting hybrid was more resilient in higher temperatures. The Guardian states, "While corals can adapt to different temperatures, it usually takes thousands of years before they can evolve within gradually changing climates."

This could be a solution if emissions are not dramatically reduces to deter climate change. However, the fate of the reef is still up in the air as we wait until June for UNESCO's "in danger" listing decision.

Tell us what you think. How do you feel about unnatural genetic modification? What if it's sole purpose was conservation and not commercial reasons?

Comment below.

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Shea Hogarth International Correspondent Suggest an article Send us an email

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