Spread across 109 countries, the world’s coral reef communities are a storehouse of biodiversity and a source of livelihood for an estimated half a billion people. Reef-building corals are the cornerstone of these coral reefs, but climate change places corals at risk through warmer water temperatures and more acidic oceans.
The ReFuGe 2020 consortium, short for Reef Future Genomics, has come together to address the gap in current knowledge of coral resilience and adaptive capacity.
Bridging this gap is critical for reef managers to maintain the diversity and function of coral reefs, by developing and implementing innovative management approaches.
The ReFuGe 2020 consortium draws on national and international expertise from reef management, and the coral reef, medical, agricultural and terrestrial genomics fields.
This world-first project, known as Sea-quence, will generate core genetic data for corals from the Great Barrier Reef and Red Sea, helping to guide management response in the face of climate change.
This project will sequence identical coral species from the Great Barrier Reef and the Red Sea. Corals in the Red Sea survive at naturally higher temperatures than those on the Great Barrier Reef. This means that the project will provide critical comparative information that will enhance our understanding of how and why some corals are more resilient.
A range of priority coral species were identified for sequencing. These species are widely distributed on the Great Barrier Reef and have diverse responses to environmental change.
These data will become the foundation for advanced research into the capacity of corals to cope with stress and adapt to a changing climate.
To read more about project progress, click here.
The two year project looks for molecular markers that can be correlated to varying tolerance to environmental stressors such as turbidity, temperature and light.
Watch this video for more about the ReFuGe 2020 consortium and their work.