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Coral reefs have long faced problems like overfishing, global warming and pollution—but they're also threatened by how slow they regenerate.
To reproduce, coral release sperm and eggs and form larvae, which then swim around and attach to a surface, where they begin to develop into coral polyps and grow. They face a variety of competitors, and most don't survive. If they do survive, it takes years for the coral to be able to reproduce, and even longer for entire reefs to form.
Researchers - Carl - R - Woese - Institute
Researchers at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) at the University of Illinois want to increase the rate of coral regeneration by creating a new home for coral larvae: artificial structures that encourage larvae settlement and discourage the growth of competitor species.
The research will be led by IGB faculty member Amy Wagoner Johnson, a professor of mechanical science and engineering, along with four Co-PIs including IGB faculty Bruce Fouke, Professor of Geology and of Microbiology, Gabriel Juarez, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering, Forest Rohwer, Professor of Biology at San Diego State University, Kristen Marhaver, and collaborator Mark Vermeij. Marhaver and Vermeij are two leading coral scientists at CARMABI Research Station, a field site on the Caribbean island of Curaçao that studies coral reefs, and the site of the fieldwork for this research.
Year - Wagoner - Johnson - Idea - Research
Last year, Wagoner Johnson had the idea to apply her research on bone regeneration to coral research.
"We thought it would be really interesting if we could take some of the things we've learned from tissue engineering—cells interacting with materials and what kinds of factors influence cells . . . and apply that to coral reproduction," she said.
Background - Material - Science - Structures - Larvae
She will use her background in material science to design artificial structures for the coral larvae to settle on, while Juarez will build a water...
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