Climate-change adaptation: Designer reefs
"Biologists are directing the evolution of corals to prepare them to fight climate change.
Palumbi is part of a small group of coral researchers around the world tackling such issues to throw threatened reefs a lifeline. Their ultimate intent is to launch a programme of ‘human-assisted evolution’, creating resistant corals in controlled nurseries and planting them in areas that have been — or will be — hard-hit by changing conditions. “It’s a brave new world of working with corals in this way,” says Ruth Gates, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who, along with coral geneticist Madeleine van Oppen at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, is helping to pioneer the field.
The work is not without controversy. Although no one is yet attempting to create genetically modified corals, some researchers are concerned that human-assisted evolution goes too far down the slippery slope of altering natural systems.”