Tuesday, September 26, 2017
A super-algae to save our seas? Genetic engineering species to save corals
Coral reefs are being negatively impacted by the warming of our oceans, which will ultimately impact a plethora of organisms. Coral reefs have a symbiotic relationship with microalgae. The algae lives in the coral reef and supplies the coral reef with food through the process of photosynthesis. However, due to the warming of our oceans the algae part from the coral reef, causing the coral reef to starve. This problem is referred to as coral bleaching. In spite of that, a type of algae called Symbiodinium contains more genetic variation than the other types of algae, which allows it to be more tolerant to the stress caused by the warming of the oceans. Scientists want to genetically engineer the Symbiodinium and transfer it to other coral reefs to save them or to genetically engineer other algae to be like the Symbiodinium. There are certain genes in the Symbiodinium that inhibit coral bleaching. Unfortunately, due to the genetic variation found in the Symbiodinium, the successful genetic variation strategies do not work for this type of species. More research and more tests has to be conducted in order to begin to place this heat-stress tolerant algae in other coral reefs.
I believe the discovery of this stress tolerant algae is an enormous step in recuperating coral reefs. Coral reefs are an important ecosystem, thus they provide homes for a plethora of marine organisms. They are also one of the most diverse ecosystem. They also protect coastlines. I think this discovery should not be given up on, no matter how hard it might be due to its genetic coding. If there is ultimately a solution to this problem, it should keep on being research and tested so a solution is found and coral reefs do not go extinct.