Coral bleaching have raised serious concerns all over the world and now researchers have found a panacea to reduce bleaching of the world's coral reefs by genetically engineering the micro-algae found in corals, enhancing their stress tolerance to ocean warming.
Researchers from University of New South Wales in Australia said, "These micro-algae are called Symbiodinium, a genus of primary producers found in corals that are essential for reef health and, thereby, critical to ocean productivity".
Coral bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, like heightened sea temperatures which harm Symbiodinium, leading corals to lose their symbiotic Symbiodinium and therefore starve to death.
According to Rachel Levin from The University of New South Wales, Australia, very little is known about Symbiodinium, thus very little information is available to improve coral reef conservation efforts.
"Symbiodinium is very biologically unusual, which has made it incompatible with well-established genetic engineering methods", said Levin.
"We therefore aimed to overcome this roadblock by conducting novel genetic analyses of Symbiodinium to enable much needed research progress", she added.
Researchers have developed the first, tailored genetic engineering framework to be applied to Symbiodinium.
"Symbiodinium that have been genetically enhanced to maintain their symbiosis with corals under rising ocean temperatures has great potential to reduce coral bleaching globally", they said.