The symbiotic octocoral Sinularia flexibilis is a producer of potential pharmaceuticals. Sustainable mass production of these corals as a source of such compounds demands innovative approaches, including coral cell culture. We studied various cell dissociation methodologies and the feasibility of cultivation of S. flexibilis cells on different media and cell dissociation methodologies. Mechanical dissociation of coral tissue always yielded the highest number of cells and allowed subsequent cellular growth in all treatments. The best results from chemical dissociation reagents were found with trypsin-ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid. Coral cells obtained from spontaneous dissociation did not grow. Light intensity was found to be important for coral cell culture showing an enduring symbiosis between the cultured cells and their intracellular algae. The Grace's insect medium and Grace's modified insect medium were found to be superior substrates. To confirm the similarity of the cultured cells and those in the coral tissue, a molecular test with Internal Transcribed Spacer primers was performed. Thereby, the presence of similar cells of both the coral cells and zooxanthella in different culture media was confirmed.
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Vol. 44 • No. 8