Characterisation of coral explants: a model organism for cnidarian–dinoflagellate studies

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Coral Reefs, 2015, 34 (1), pp. 133 - 142
Issue Date:
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© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Coral cell cultures made from reef-building scleractinian corals have the potential to aid in the pursuit of understanding of the cnidarian–dinoflagellate symbiosis. Various methods have previously been described for the production of cell cultures in vitro with a range of success and longevity. In this study, viable tissue spheroids containing host tissue and symbionts (coral explants) were grown from the tissues of Fungia granulosa. The cultured explants remained viable for over 2 months and showed morphological similarities in tissue structure and internal microenvironment to reef-building scleractinian corals. The photophysiology of the explants (1 week old) closely matched that of the parent coral F. granulosa. This study provides the first empirical basis for supporting the use of coral explants as laboratory models for studying coral symbioses. In particular, it highlights how these small, self-sustaining, skeleton-free models can be useful for a number of molecular, genetic and physiological analyses necessary for investigating host–symbiont interactions at the microscale.
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