Home Technology The race is on to save lots of coral reefs–by freezing them

The race is on to save lots of coral reefs–by freezing them

The race is on to save lots of coral reefs–by freezing them


Hagedorn and her collaborators have been capable of cryopreserve larvae since 2018, however the course of was finicky, and thawing them required refined lasers to warmth them at a fee of greater than 1,000,000 °C per minute. Now, Hagedorn’s group has devised and examined a simplified technique. The larvae are dehydrated on a metal mesh, immersed in a cryoprotectant, and plunged into liquid nitrogen. To thaw them, the mesh is put in a room-temperature rehydration resolution. If all goes effectively, the larvae swim off inside two hours. “That’s been an enormous development,” Hagedorn says. “And what meaning is that we are able to cease the extinction of species, and in a manner that’s very user-friendly.” 

There has additionally been progress preserving grownup corals. In August, Powell-Palm, Hagedorn, and others introduced that that they had seen cryopreserved grownup specimens survive one or two days earlier than falling prey to micro organism. The method they used, referred to as isochoric vitrification, employs a small, confined chamber to stop liquids from increasing into ice. “I all the time describe it as low tech, excessive science,” Powell-Palm says. “The thermodynamic processes at play inside the chamber are splendidly advanced … however technologically, it’s unbelievably easy.” 

If—and Hagedorn emphasizes the if—isochoric vitrification is perfected, it might be a sport changer. Quite than requiring researchers to attend for the few nights a yr that corals spawn to catch their sperm and larvae, this technique will permit them to gather and cryopreserve corals at any time when it’s handy. Thawed fragments would develop into bigger colonies and in the future spawn as effectively, serving to to restart lifeless or struggling reefs.  

Essentially the most intractable drawback, nevertheless, could be time. As excessive temperatures, acidic water, air pollution, and illness batter corals, they might develop too sickly to resist the stresses of cryopreservation. Corals must be collected as quickly as attainable, Hagedorn says, whereas their well being remains to be largely intact. 

On the similar time, she’s planning for a conservation program which will final for many years—even centuries, as a result of the oceans might proceed to heat for a lot of generations, even within the occasion of decisive local weather motion. Hagedorn is investigating the feasibility of storing coral and different animal tissues on completely cool components of the moon. If some catastrophe had been to befall coral repositories on Earth, samples tucked in lunar lava tubes or shady craters may persist for hundreds of years. 

Allison Man reviews on well being and the surroundings.


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