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Coral WhisperersScientists on the Brink$
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Irus Braverman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520298842

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520298842.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 May 2022

The Coral Holobiont

The Coral Holobiont

Hope and the Genomic Turn

(p.201) Chapter 5 The Coral Holobiont
Coral Whisperers

Irus Braverman

University of California Press

The fifth and final chapter in the book, “The Coral Holobiont: Hope and the Genomic Turn,” explores the hope encapsulated within coral life in the flesh. Holobionts, hologenomes, chimeras, and reticulate evolution are just a few of the concepts deployed by coral scientists to shed light on the microscopic and macroscopic complexity of corals, highlighting the emergence of a genomic turn in coral science. The chapter delves into coral symbiosis, exploring how it challenges our definitions and understanding of the individual—in corals and beyond. It also points to debates betweencoral scientists about the resiliency of hybrids and about the design of novel experiments in assisted evolution and of super corals in particular. Whereas such novel designs focus on tweaking present-day corals for the sake of corals of the future, coral tissues also serve as living genebanks—repositories of DNA that freeze cellular life in time until they can be defrosted in the future. Finally, the rings of coral skeletons provide windows into past climates, especially in tropical oceans where reading ice cores and tree rings is often not possible. Throughout, tensions emerge between field scientists and geneticists about the right way to save corals. The chapter nonetheless ends on a hopeful note.

Keywords:   symbiosis, holobiont, hybrid, coral genomics, super coral, assisted evolution, the genetic turn, individual-collective divide

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