July 18, 2018


Scientists are speeding up evolution to build climate change resistance (ADELE PETERS, 7/18/18, Co.Exist)

The goal: to cross-breed species that survived recent coral bleaching-a heat-driven process that causes the coral to expel its symbiotic algae, turning it white and eventually killing it-to create offspring that have a better chance in the hotter, more acidic ocean of the future.
It's one example of so-called assisted evolution-an attempt to help species adapt to a changing environment more quickly than they are likely to through natural selection. Thousands of miles away, in British Columbia, researchers are studying the genetics of pine trees so breeders can breed trees that better resist a particular disease that is increasing with climate change. With thousands of other plants and animals at risk of extinction-in the Amazon alone, around 34,000 plants may be extinct by the end of the century if the planet warms two degrees-it's possible that assisted evolution is an approach that may eventually be used more widely.

"I think assisted evolution will allow us to buy some time until the world addresses greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and climate warming," says Madeleine van Oppen, a University of Melbourne professor helping lead the research at the at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, where researchers use a "sea simulator" that precisely mimics the conditions of the changing ocean to test which coral are hardiest.

Posted by at July 18, 2018 4:27 AM