Inducing Polyp Bail-out in Coral Colonies to Obtain Individualized Micropropagates for Laboratory Experimental Use

by Pedro M. Cardoso, Ahmed A. Alsaggaf, Helena Villela, Raquel Peixoto
DOI: 10.3791/63840

Extra Information

Journal of Visualized Experiments: Jove 182 (2022)


Corals are colonial animals formed by modular units called polyps. Coral polyps are physiologically linked and connected by tissue. The phenomenon of polyp bail-out is a process induced by acute stress, in which coral polyps digest the tissue connecting them to the rest of the colony and ultimately detach from the skeleton to continue living as separate individuals. Coral biologists have acknowledged the process of polyp bail-out for years, but only recently the micropropagates generated by this process have been recognized as a model system for coral biology studies. The use of polyp bail-out can create a high number of clonal units from a single coral fragment. Another benefit is that single polyps or patches of polyps can be easily visualized under a microscope and maintained in highly standardized low-cost environments such as Petri dishes, flasks, and microfluidic chips. The present protocol demonstrates reproducible methods capable of inducing coral micropropagation and different approaches for maintaining the single polyps alive in the long term. This methodology was capable of successfully cultivating polyps of the coral species Pocillopora verrucosa for up to 8 weeks after bail-out, exhibiting the practicality of using individual coral polyps for coral research.