The University of Hawaii’s Frozen Coral Bank – Noah’s Ark for Hawaii’s Corals

The University of Hawaii has created the first of its kind: A Frozen Coral Cell Bank. While these frozen cell banks already exist for seeds and plants in order to preserve them in the extremely unfortunate case that they would be needed – the University of Hawaii developed their frozen coral cell bank in order to preserve the biodiversity of the Hawaiian coral species.

Image Source: University of Hawaii

Here’s how it works: Because frozen blanked cells are viable, the frozen material can be thawed in 1 to 50 or – in theory – even up to 1,000 plus years. Some of these cells have already been thawed out in the form of frozen coral sperm cells. They were successful in fertilizing coral eggs to produce developing coral larve according to a biologist named Mary Hagedron who works at the University.

Hawaiian Mushroom Coral – Image Source: Bryan Harry via http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/

So far, the Hawaiian coral cell bank has frozen sperm and embryotic cells from mushroom coral and rice coral.

Hawaiian Rice Coral – Image Source: Waikiki Aquarium https://www.waikikiaquarium.org/

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 the Anela Kolohe Foundation.

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