How gene editing can save coral reefs

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[There is a great deal to be hoped for through CRISPR/Cas9 technology. *RON*]

Josh Gabbatiss, The Independent / Times of India, 25 April 2018

Genetically engineered coral has been created by a team at America’s Stanford University, in a project they hope will serve as a “blueprint” for future coral conservation.

For the first time, researchers were able to apply a unique tool called CRISPRCas9 to edit coral genes. In the future, they hope to identify genes involved in coral survival, especially those that help them tolerate the rising temperatures that have led to catastrophic reef “die-offs”.

While scientists have emphasised that genetically enhanced “super-corals” are still a long way from becoming reality, this work is still thought to hold great promise for coral protection.

“We hope that future experiments using CRISPRCas9 will help us develop a better understanding of basic coral biology that we then can apply to predict what’s going to happen in the future,” explained Phillip Cleve, a geneticist and the lead author of the new study. The new research comes at a time of great concern for the world’s coral.