Corals from Great Barrier Reef to provide frozen 'bank'

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Researchers in Australia are creating a marine 'bank' by freezing coral samples from the Great Barrier Reef.

Scientists have frozen embryonic cells and sperm of corals and the cryo-preserved specimens will be held at a specialist facility at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo in New South Wales.

Dr Madeleine van Oppen of the Australian Institute of Marine Science said: "These cells are frozen but kept alive so we can thaw them in the future and sperm can be used to fertilise fresh eggs and we're hoping that the technologies will be developed to such an extent that we can regrow coral colonies from the frozen cells."

These specimens could one day play an important role in maintaining the diversity of coral reefs and they provide a kind of insurance, should other methods to preserve the reefs fail.

It's the first time the project has been carried out in Australia. 

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