Reformation of tissue balls from tentacle explants of coral Goniopora lobata: self-organization process and response to environmental stresses

  • Qiongxuan Lu
  • Tao Liu
  • Xianming Tang
  • Bo DongEmail author
  • Huarong GuoEmail author


Coral has strong regeneration ability, which has been applied for coral production and biodiversity protection via tissue ball (TB) culture. However, the architecture, morphological processes, and effects of environmental factors on TB formation have not been well investigated. In this study, we first observed TB formation from the cutting tentacle of scleractinia coral Goniopora lobata and uncovered its inner organization and architecture by confocal microscopy. We then found that the cutting tentacle TB could self-organize and reform a solid TB (sTB) in the culture media. Using chemical drug treatment and dissection manipulation approaches, we demonstrated that the mechanical forces for bending and rounding of the cutting fragments came from the epithelial cells, and the cilia of epithelial cell played indispensable roles for the rounding process. Environmental stress experiments showed that high temperature, not CO2-induced acidification, affected TB and sTB formation. However, the combination of high temperature and acidification caused additional severe effects on sTB reformation. Our studies indicate that coral TB has strong regeneration ability and therefore could serve as a new model to further explore the molecular mechanism of TB formation and the effects of environmental stresses on coral survival and regeneration.


Coral Goniopora lobata Tissue ball High temperature Ocean acidification 



We thank Xin Liang from Tsinghua University (Beijing, China) for generously providing technical guidance on circularity measure and calculation; and Mavis Adusei-Fosu for critical reading of the manuscript. This work is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31472274 and 31172391), Regional Demonstration of Marine Economy Innovative Development Project (No.12PYY001SF08), National High-tech R&D Program of China (863 Program; Grant No. 2012AA10A402), and open funds of Institute of biodiversity and evolution, Ocean University of China (Grant No. 201362017). B. Dong is supported by Taishan Scholar Program of Shandong Province. This work is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31472274 and 31172391), Regional Demonstration of Marine Economy Innovative Development Project (No.12PYY001SF08), National High-tech R&D Program of China (863 Program; Grant No. 2012AA10A402), and open funds of Institute of biodiversity and evolution, Ocean University of China (Grant No. 201362017). B. Dong is supported by Taishan Scholar Program of Shandong Province. All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Author contributions

Q.L. performed all the experiments except confocal images capture, which were done by B.D. Q.L. and B.D. prepared all the figures. T.L. and X.T. provide regents and materials. H.G., B.D., and Q.L. analyzed the data, wrote the main manuscript text, and designed experiments. All authors reviewed the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declared no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material (803 kb)
ESM Video S1 The cilia are clearly present in the surface of epithelial cells and swinging in the fragment of cut tentacle of coral. (910 kb)
ESM Video S2 The formed tentacle tissue balls are rotated in the culture media. (5.8 mb)
ESM Video S3 The TB fragment experienced bending process and formed a solid tissue body in the culture media.
ESM Video S4

The processes of 1/8 sTB reformation. The 1/8 TB fragment experienced rounding process and formed a solid tissue body in the culture media. (MOV 19076 kb)

ESM Video S5

The 1/8 sTB incubated in the Ca2+ free artificial seawater(CaFASW). The 1/3 sTB fail to reform in the Ca2+ free artificial seawater. (MOV 19063 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Society for In Vitro Biology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Marine Genetics and Breeding, College of Marine Life SciencesOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Hainan Academy of Ocean and Fisheries SciencesHaikouChina
  3. 3.Institute of Evolution and Marine BiodiversityOcean University of ChinaQingdaoChina
  4. 4.Laboratory for Marine Biology and BiotechnologyQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina

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