Developing coral tissue and polyp culture for use in biological and biomedical research

The Invention Model miniature scleractinian coral polyps from single genetic stocks are been produced in a unique and novel way. In this invention numerous miniature coral polyps are created from tissue biopsies from a single adult coral polyp. The process creates tissue biopsies that are initially devoid of skeletal elements and that through a reorganization of the two primary tissue types (a process we call re-morphogenesis), settle, follow polyp genesis, ultimately developing into whole miniature polyps. This process can be manipulated to either produce tissue grade lines or polyp lines. The protocol is configured for mass tissue culturing of > 200 biopsies taken from a single coral polyp source (i.e. producing >200 polyps from a single genetic line or clone). Furthermore, it is configured for producing subcultures of these lines, thus producing “immortal” or long-lived genetic lines.This technique will provide cultures of novel model species similar to models such as Drosophila, Arabidopsis, Zebrafish, Hydra, where genetic lines are being produced commercially for biomedical/genetic studies. This system will allow for comparative and collaborative studies worldwide, producing model corals that will be analogous to “lab rats”. The Need In biological and biomedical studies there is a need for model organisms from single genetic stocks that are easy to grow and manipulate. This is particularly true for ecotoxicological studies whereby a level of toxicity of a suspected contaminant on an organism must be assessed using an array of parameters. Model organisms from single genetic lines are also central for comparative studies on basic biological functions such as growth and senescence. Scleractinian corals belong to the Phylum Cnidaria, one of the simplest and most evolutionarily basic groups of organisms with tissue grade organization and aragonite exoskeleton, making them important in studying the evolutionary base of many biological processes. Our technology can be used for a variety of studies requiring genetically identical tissue lines most importantly, ecotoxiclogical studies; thus providing industry and environmental agencies a tool for assessment of the effects of human activities on the environment. Moreover, this method will also provide a protocol for producing polyps and small colonies for the aquarium trade. Potential Applications The final product of our protocol will produce lines of coral tissues and polyps of identical genetic makeup for use in industry and research.

Our model system will be useful in the study of ecotoxicology and pharmacology because it allows for pharmaceuticals and contaminants to be screened for toxicological effects using internationally accredited testing designs (on single genetic lines). Potential user include:
• Pharmaceutical and chemical companies that wish to test the effects of their products on biological and environmental systems.
• Scientific investigators and government agencies researching aspects of general physiology, cell biology, and genomics. These cultures can be used as models or “guinea pigs” in assessing levels of effect of possible toxicants in marine environments.

Additional applications include:
• Aquarium trade. Developing these explants as “perpetual” lines will reduce collections from the wild.
• Educational purposes. Similar to Drosophila, Hydra and Arabidopsis, the coral explants can be used as "lab rats" in studying basic physiological and developmental processes

Advantages To date, a two inch coral fragment (i.e. tissue + skeleton) collected from a wild colony, fragmented and grown in situ may cost between $24 and over $100, depending on the species. (e.g. Pacific East Aquaculture Inc. Midland Reefs in UK). These corals must be maintained in flow-through aquaria with proper lighting feeding regimes etc., i.e., a costly endeavor. Our technology will provide the pharma and chemical companies easy manipulation without the need for large space and marine aquaria, making this technology more user friendly and less costly. Our model system will be useful in the study of ecotoxicology and pharmacology because it allows for pharmaceuticals and contaminants to be screened for toxicological effects using internationally accredited testing designs (on single genetic lines). World-leading agribusinesses and pharma businesses, will be able to use these lines to assess possible effects of their products on the marine environment by assessing their affects on relevant species . Stage The culture of small, genetically identical tissues and polyps from tissues of the solitary coral Fungia granulosa and species of colonial corals was developed. Approximately 200 tissue explants have been produced from each single polyp. These tissues and polyps are maintained in the laboratory. Tissue explants are maintained under a day/night light, and temperature regimes. Biopsies or explants have survived at the tissue grade for over three months. Polyps can be transferred into natural sea-water, fed and maintained for months. Polyps originating from this protocol have been maintained in our lab for over 24 months. Polyp/tissue lines: F2 cultures were successfully established from an existing polyp culture. Developmental parameters were identical to the parameters of the parent culture.

Patent Pending Tech Transfer Officer Dr. Tamar Raz Office: +972-3-6406580 Fax: +972-3-6406675 Mail:

Inventor(s): Yossi Loya, Esti Kramarsky-Winter, Maya Vizel, Craig Downs

Type of Offer: Licensing

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