Infographic: How Scientists Are Creating Coral Cell Lines

Stable, long-term cell lines will enable scientists to study everything from coral bleaching to biomineralization, knowledge that may help protect corals from ongoing climate change.

amanda heidt
Amanda Heidt

Amanda is an associate editor at The Scientist, where she oversees the Scientist to Watch, Foundations, and Short Lit columns. When not editing, she produces original reporting for the magazine and website. Amanda has a master's in marine science from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and a master's in science communication from UC Santa Cruz.

View full profile.

Learn about our editorial policies.


To isolate cell lines from the reef-building coral Acropora tenuis, researchers first collected adults from two islands in southern Japan (1). In the lab, the team induced the corals to spawn, creating fertilized larvae called planulae (2). Adding a chemical called plasmin to the planulae caused them to dissociate into individual cells (3), which were grown in a special culture medium that contains nutrients and other additives to help them thrive (4). The researchers isolated eight individual lines (5), including monoclonal lines made up of only one type of cell and polyclonal lines that contained multiple types of cells. Each cell type was characterized based on the genes it expressed (6), enabling researchers to match them to suspected corresponding types in adult corals, such as endodermal, skeletal, or neuronal precursors.


Read the full story.