, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 171–184

In vitro cell-toxicity screening as an alternative animal model for coral toxicology: effects of heat stress, sulfide, rotenone, cyanide, and cuprous oxide on cell viability and mitochondrial function


    • Haereticus Environmental Laboratory
    • Office of Public Health Studies, John A. Burns School of MedicineUniversity of Hawaii—Manoa
  • John E. Fauth
    • Department of BiologyUniversity of Central Florida
  • Virgil D. Downs
    • Haereticus Environmental Laboratory
  • Gary K. Ostrander
    • Pacific Biosciences Research CenterUniversity of Hawaii—Manoa

DOI: 10.1007/s10646-009-0403-5

Cite this article as:
Downs, C.A., Fauth, J.E., Downs, V.D. et al. Ecotoxicology (2010) 19: 171. doi:10.1007/s10646-009-0403-5


The logistics involved in obtaining and maintaining large numbers of corals hampers research on the toxicological effects of environmental contaminants for this ecologically and economically important taxon. A method for creating and culturing single-cell suspensions of viable coral cells was developed. Cell segregation/separation was based on specific cell densities and resulting cell cultures were viable for at least 2 mos. Low-density cells lacking symbiotic zooxanthallae and rich in mitochondria were isolated and cultured for toxicity studies. Cells were exposed to differing degrees or concentrations of heat stress, rotenone, cyanide, sulfide, and cuprous oxide. Cells were assayed for mitochondrial membrane potential using the fluorescent probe, JC-9, and for overall viability using the MTT/formazan spectrophotometric viability assay. Significant differences were observed between controls and treatments and the efficacy of this method was validated; only 2 cm2 of tissue was required for a seven-point concentration-exposure series.


Cell isolationCoralCyanideCytotoxicityCuprous oxideSulfide

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009