Has developed cryopreservation technologies to preserve coral sperm and fertilized eggs and her team has managed to conserve over 30 species worldwide to date. With all 800-plus species of coral threatened by increasingly warming and acidifying waters, the technology potentially allows scientists to continually create a “book of life,” and facilitates the reseeding of coral reefs. As hermaphrodites, corals produce both sperm and eggs—but rarely. In the Great Barrier Reef, for example, there are 400 species of coral, each of them reproducing just two nights a year for a mere 40 minutes each time.
Collecting coral sperm and eggs is a complicated endeavor and one that varies from species to species requiring a global team to work as quickly as possible. The unpredictability of spawning events in nature and the logistical difficulty of gamete collection makes this technique difficult to scale.
Dr. Hagedorn is not the only researcher who has explored cryo-preservation as an option for coral conservation, albeit her efforts have focused specifically on the coral gametes. This focus has limited her ability to capture and preserve more than just a few coral species which have to be stored under expensive and highly specialized conditions. Dr. Craig Downs, in contrast has explored cryo-preservation of coral fragments as an alternative based on the theory of placing the specimens in a state of suspended animation for potential future asomatic propagation.