Cryo-Preservation & Inventory
Once a healthy coral community is identified, corals tissue from a number of individual colonies per species will be sampled. These coral tissues will be allowed to grow in the laboratory for several weeks, and then processed so that they can be frozen. The processing entails getting the tissue ready to endure the stress of freezing and thawing.
Once the coral tissue is ready, the tissue is placed in a vitrification media. This media helps it survive the stress of freezing, as well as endure the years of being held in a cryogenic stasis. Corals are frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen vapor. They can persist like this for decades, even hundreds of years.
Each coral sample is divided into three aliquots. One aliquot is housed in regional repository facilities, while the other two aliquots are housed in the International facilities in the U.S. and in the U.K at Oxford University.
The Zoological Society of London has extensive experience in the curation of specimens, and it will be their staff who will design a curation protocol for the coral inventories at the regional and international facilities.
Fig. 1. Xenia tissue explants were made from adult Xenia – a soft coral. These explants were cultured in the laboratory for 4 days, processed using a vitrification protocol, and then slowly frozen using liquid nitrogen vapor. Tissue samples were maintained in a cryogenic stasis for a week, and then slowly thawed in a special thawing media. The tissue explants were then transferred to a culturing media where they were induced to regenerate into an individual polyp.