Looking to preserve the rich biodiversity of coral species in Hawaii, scientists from the University of Hawaii have created a cryogenic coral bank. Similar to the frozen coral bank we brought you before, the university is freezing samples of corals in liquid nitrogen in an attempt to stave off extinction from climate and ecological changing threatening Hawaii’s reefs.
“Because frozen banked cells are viable, the frozen material can be thawed in one, 50 or, in theory, even 1000 years from now to restore a species or population,” said biologist Mary Hagedorn of the University of Hawaii. “In fact, some of the frozen sperm samples have already been thawed and used to fertilize coral eggs to produce developing coral larvae.”
There is no doubt human activities have had a definite toll on the worlds reefs. From global warming and ocean acidification to intentional and unintentional damage from recreational activities like diving, fishing and boating, Hawaii’s reefs are one of the main sources of income for the state. We are hoping these actions are just precautions and won’t have to be used to restore entirely extinct species on the Hawaiian reefs.
So far, the Hawaiian coral cell bank has frozen sperm and embryotic cells from mushroom coral (Fungia scutaria) and rice coral (Montipora capitata). They aim to store as many species of Hawaiian coral as possible. The work is being funded by the Smithsonian, University of Hawaii, Morris Animal Foundation, and Anela Kolohe Foundation.