Saving microscopic threatened species through artificial insemination

Date: 1/2/2008

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo, USA recently acquired 12,000 new animals—microscopic Elkhorn coral larvae—as part on an international collaborative programme to raise the threatened species. Zoo scientists hope to one day return the animals to their ocean habitat. In August 2007 the Zoo’s reproductive scientist Dr Mary Hagedorn travelled to Puerto Rico with marine scientists involved with sexual coral reproduction to collect and artificially inseminate coral. Hagedorn is pioneering the cyropreservation (freezing, storing and thawing) of coral sperm and eggs. She is trying to create a genome resource bank, which will help preserve the genetic diversity of coral.

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