Synthetic biology and genetic engineering
Genetic engineering directly manipulates the genetic code of organisms to influence the expression of particular traits. These approaches have been widely used to understand the function of genes, to develop resistant agricultural species and to understand the nature of human disease. Recently-developed gene editing technologies allow researchers to:
- precisely edit genetic material to examine the genetic basis to stress tolerance (such as coral bleaching tolerance)
- potentially change the genetic code to increase stress tolerance or other desirable traits in corals or their microbial partners.
Genetic engineering research greatly facilitates a strong fundamental understanding of corals’ heat tolerance responses, which is required for most, if not all, assisted evolution approaches. The role of genetic engineering approaches in increasing heat stress tolerance in the coral host, its resident algae and through engineering its microbiome to increase beneficial probiotics, is not yet clear.
Photo by Marie Roman