Wednesday , June 16 2021

Ruth Gates: A marine biologist who worked on breeding "super coral"



Ruth Gates was a British Coral Reef Biologist and Miner Protector who best remembered advocating the breeding of the "super coral" that could resist the effects of global warming and complement rapidly worsened reefs around the world.

Gates, who died at the age of 56, was director of the Hawaiian Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii, Manouai. Her husband, Robin Burton-Gates, survived.

Gates grew up in Kent and said she first became prefixed with coral reefs over the color of television films by explorer Jackues Cousteau. "Although Cursoo is going through the television, he discovered the oceans in a way that no one else could," she said Not yorker in 2016.

By the age of 11, she said she knew she wanted to be a marine biologist. She continued her PhD in marine biology, published dozens of scientific papers and, in 2015, became the first woman to be elected president of the International Society for Studying ridge. Last year also appeared Emmi-vinning Netflik documentary Chasing Coral and became a frequent commentator in the media on preserving the ridge, as well as the effects of climate change.

"Corals are the most complicated organisms on the planet, so if I can understand them, I can understand everything else," she explained earlier this year in a video for the University of Hawaii Foundation, an organization for fundraising for the UH system.

Like all biologists on the coral, Gates studied the disappearance of the organism. During her career, she testified about the death of about one-third to one half of the world's ridge, because species influenced pollution, ocean poisoning and rising temperatures, according to scientific estimates.

The corals are small animals like anemones that often live in vast colonies made of thousands of genetically identical individuals or polyps. Like their parents, coral polypes have pipes armed with focal cells that can catch microscopic parts of food from the water.

Most corals have a symbiotic relationship with fine algae that live within their tissues. And as plants, these algae can use energy from sunlight to build sugars that work with their animals. It was this intimate relationship between the various species that confused and fascinated Gates, so she decided to study the coral in particular to try to understand the symbiosis at the molecular level.

Gates arrived in Jamaica for graduation in the field in 1985, just in time to express this symbiotic attitude. In 1987, the Caribbean had one of the first major bleaching events, where normally colored animals suddenly lost their algae partners, and their white calcium carbonate skeletons became visible through relatively pure tissues. Gates's early work on animals helped biologists to understand that such bleaching was a serious version of the normal process that led the temperature.

She held academic positions at the California University of Los Angeles before moving to Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (Himb) in 2003, where she became director in 2015. In Hawaii, a living coral reef right in her backyard meant an immediate access to a research experiment .

The most recent of their efforts included "super corals" – those that were specially selected and deferred for their ability to withstand warmer, more acidic waters predicted in the future due to climate change. This is an idea that came from the early work of Gates's work on the bleaching of the coral and her observations that no matter how bad the bleaching was, some single corals have always survived.

In 2013, she won an essay competition of $ 10,000 (£ 7,618) sponsored by a foundation led by Microsoft-based co-founder Paul Allen, to develop innovative ideas for speeding up quick oceans.

Responding to victory, she later submitted a detailed plan with Madeleine van Oppen from the Australian Maritime Science Institute that in 2015 they received a $ 4 million grant from the foundation.

"Knowing that this time is short for saving the coral and humanity, Ruth saw the opportunity to grow corals that have not only survived earlier difficulties, but have managed to under difficult conditions," said Brian Tailor, Dean of the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, which oversees the Hawaiian Institute. "Her laboratory determines which traits make some corals a sick survivor of others, and they support these traits through selective breeding."

Gates called it "acceleration of natural selection". The rate of change in the environment has essentially exceeded the ability of the corals themselves to adapt, "she said in the video of the UH Foundation in 2018.

She identified the hardest coral by choosing those who survived warmer waters in the lab and worked on multiplying those to create corals that are even more resistant. This is similar to the process that farmers are cultivating. In the end, she said, these "super corals" can be used to complement the ridge after massive deaths, such as those experienced last year by the Great Barrier Reef above northeastern Australia.

The project is in the fourth year and has led to several scientific publications, but, according to Himb colleagues, he just got off the ground. In addition to the selection and cultivation of elastic coral, project members continue to consider how transience is transmitted from generation to generation and explores the possibility of coral inoculation with more thermally tolerant algae species and other symbiotic organisms (some kind of "Coral Probiotics"). Projects are now in the hands of their students and colleagues.

Gates's vision has provoked criticism from some in the scientific community.

"I think it's incredible that we will succeed in some years what kind of evolution has failed over the past several hundred million years," said Ken Caldeira, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford Universities, in New York in 2016. "There is this idea that there should be some light techno-repair, just so that we can be creative enough to find it. I guess I simply do not think that's true."

Others thought that Super Corals discourage more important goals, such as reducing carbon emissions. "Let's put our energy and resources into something we know will make a difference," said late colleague Himb, Paul Jokiel Nevsveek in 2016.

Gates was guided, but her plan was not considered the only viable option, friends said to publications. "I really do not care about me" in this, "she said Not yorker. "I worry about what's going on with the corals. If I can do something that will help them preserve them and keep them in the future, I will do everything they can."

Ruth Deborah Gates was born in Akrotiri, Cyprus, March 28, 1962. She grew up mostly in Kent, where she went to boarding school while her parents went to work for her father in the military intelligence service. Her mother was trained as a physical therapist.

At the University of Nevcastle upon Tine, near the North Sea, she got her doctorate in 1984, and in the field of marine biology.

In September, she married her four-year-old companion. In addition to his wife, the brother also survived.

Gates often noticed the resistance she met as a young woman striving for a career in science, and she became a strong advocate of her students regardless of sex. When she was elected President of the International Society for Studying ridge, one of her first actions was the diversification of his staff. She was well-known in the community for her disarmingly charisma, a soothing English accent focused on fierce grit through training as a martial artist. She got a black belt in karate.

"I was watching some ridges falling apart in front of my eyes," she said Times Higher Education Supplement in 2016. "I can not bear the idea that future generations may not experience a coral reef. The mission is to start solving the problem, not just studying it."

Ruth Gates, biologist, born March 28, 1962, died on October 25, 2018

© Washington Post


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