Ruth Gates, marine biologist who attempted to breed ‘super corals’ to save the world’s reefs from extinction

 

In 2012 she demonstrated that coral algae come in several genetically distinct varieties which affect how their hosts cope with environmental stress, and in 2013 she and her colleague Madeleine van Oppen won a $4 million grant from a foundation established by Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen for a four-year project, beginning in 2016, to breed “super corals” by what she called “assisted evolution”.

This involved some researchers trying to selectively breed the corals themselves, selecting for hardier ones; others working out if resilient corals can pass their genetic strengths to their offspring, and others focusing on how to coax young corals to take up new heat or pollution-tolerant strains of algae as their symbiotic partners.

Ruth Gates, marine biologist who attempted to breed ‘super corals’ to save the world’s reefs from extinction – obituary

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