The feasibility and challenges of building coral reef resilience through assisted evolution
Results/Conclusions: We propose a series of experiments that leverage and naturally accelerate rapid adaptive mechanisms in corals, an approach known as (human)-assisted evolution (AE). These experiments include: 1) inducing acclimatization or epigenetic response mechanisms, 2) evolving symbionts, 3) shuffling and/or switching symbiont communities, and 4) selective breeding of corals. The goal of these activities is to develop stocks of corals with enhanced stress tolerance that can be used to build resilience on depauperate reefs, to restore damaged reefs and to “green” existing grey structures. We discuss the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to applying AE to reef corals and highlight the broad community discussion that will frame the success of biological interventions aimed at preserving or restoring coral reef resilience and sustaining the associated human goods and services that reefs provide.