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August 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 34, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Can Genetic Engineering Save Coral Reefs?

from the August, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Global warming is decimating the world's reefs. Watching that happen to Australia's Great Barrier Reef has transformed Madaleine Van Oppen, a coral geneticist at the University of Melbourne, into a leading advocate of something that was considered radical until recently: creating breeds of coral that can withstand warmer water.

Van Oppen and her colleagues are re-engineering corals with techniques as old as the domestication of plants and as new as the latest gene-editing tools. A feature story in Science explains how Van Oppen and the team of researchers she's leading at the National Sea Simulator in Townsville are busy cross-breeding corals in tanks in a rush to find a solution to the annihilation of the world's largest reef system, just 50 miles offshore. Their efforts have helped make Australia, which recently committed AUS$300 million to coral research and restoration, a global magnet for reef scientists....


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