Biotech Updates

CRISPR-Cas9 Reveals a Gene Necessary in Coral Skeleton Formation

June 7, 2023

A team from Carnegie Science used CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tools to identify a gene that is essential in the skeleton formation of stony corals. Their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Stony corals are marine invertebrates that construct large skeletons, which constitute the backbone of reef ecosystems. These serve as a home to about a quarter of identified marine species in the oceans. However, due to carbon pollution, reef growth has been hindered. The excess carbon dioxide released into the air is absorbed by the ocean, which leads to ocean acidification. This change impacts calcification, a process for constructing the skeletons of stony corals.

With the help of CRISPR-Cas9, the scientists determined that the SLC4γ gene is necessary for the skeleton formation of young coral colonies. The gene encodes a protein that transports bicarbonate across cellular membranes. By understanding its biology, scientists can initiate successful conservation efforts for these marine communities.

For more information, read the article in Carnegie Science.

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