Throughout the world coral reefs are being degraded at unprecedented rates. Locally, reefs are damaged by pollution, nutrient overload and sedimentation from out-dated land-use, fishing and mining practices. Globally, increased greenhouse gases are warming and acidifying oceans, making corals more susceptible to stress, bleaching and newly emerging diseases. The coupling of climate change impacts and local anthropogenic stressors has caused a widespread and well-recognized reef crisis. Although in situ conservation practices, such as the establishment and enforcement of marine protected areas, reduce these stressors and may help slow the loss of genetic diversity on reefs, the global effects of climate change will continue to cause population declines. Gamete cryopreservation has already acted as an effective insurance policy to maintain the genetic diversity of many wildlife species, but has only just begun to be explored for coral. Already we have had a great deal of success with cryopreserving sperm and larval cells from a variety of coral species. Building on this success, we have now begun to establish genetic banks using frozen samples, to help offset these threats to the Great Barrier Reef and other areas.
Large gaps in basement membrane (BM) occur during organ remodelling and cancer cell invasion. Whether dividing cells, which temporarily reduce their attachment to BM, influence these breaches is unknown. Here we analyse uterine-vulval attachment during development across 21 species of rhabditid nematodes and find that the BM gap that forms between these organs is always bounded by a non-dividing vulval cell. Through cell cycle manipulation and live cell imaging in Caenorhabditis elegans, we show that actively dividing vulval cells facilitate enlargement of this breach by promoting BM movement. In contrast, targeted cell cycle arrest halts BM movement and limits gap opening. Further, we demonstrate that the BM component laminin accumulates at the BM gap edge and promotes increased integrin levels in non-dividing vulval cells, stabilizing gap position. Together, these studies reveal that cell division can be used as a mechanism to regulate BM breaches, thus controlling the exchange of cells between tissues.
Although conventional cryopreservation is a proven method for long-term, safe storage of genetic material, protocols used by the zebrafish community are not standardized and yield inconsistent results, thereby putting the security of many genotypes in individual laboratories and stock centers at risk. An important challenge for a successful zebrafish sperm cryopreservation program is the large variability in the post-thaw in vitro fertilization success (0 to 80%). But how much of this variability was due to the reproductive traits of the in vitro fertilization process, and not due to the cryopreservation process? These experiments only assessed the in vitro process with fresh sperm, but yielded the basic metrics needed for successful in vitro fertilization using cryopreserved sperm, as well. We analyzed the reproductive traits for zebrafish males with a strict body condition range. It did not correlate with sperm volume, or motility (P>0.05), but it did correlate with sperm concentration. Younger males produced more concentrated sperm (P<0.05). To minimize the wastage of sperm during the in vitro fertilization process, 10(6) cells/ml was the minimum sperm concentration needed to achieve an in vitro fertilization success of ? 70%. During the in vitro process, pooling sperm did not reduce fertilization success (P>0.05), but pooling eggs reduced it by approximately 30 to 50% (P<0.05). This reduction in fertilization success was due not to the pooling of the females eggs, but to the type of tools used to handle the eggs. Recommendations to enhance the in vitro process for zebrafish include: 1) using males of a body condition closer to 1.5 for maximal sperm concentration; 2) minimizing sperm wastage by using a working sperm concentration of 10(6) motile cells/ml for in vitro fertilization; and 3) never using metal or sharp-edged tools to handle eggs prior to fertilization.
Coral reefs are experiencing unprecedented degradation due to human activities, and protecting specific reef habitats may not stop this decline, because the most serious threats are global (i.e., climate change), not local. However, ex situ preservation practices can provide safeguards for coral reef conservation. Specifically, modern advances in cryobiology and genome banking could secure existing species and genetic diversity until genotypes can be introduced into rehabilitated habitats. We assessed the feasibility of recovering viable sperm and embryonic cells post-thaw from two coral species, Acropora palmata and Fungia scutaria that have diffferent evolutionary histories, ecological niches and reproductive strategies. In vitro fertilization (IVF) of conspecific eggs using fresh (control) spermatozoa revealed high levels of fertilization (>90% in A. palmata; >84% in F. scutaria; P>0.05) that were unaffected by tested sperm concentrations. A solution of 10% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) at cooling rates of 20 to 30°C/min most successfully cryopreserved both A. palmata and F. scutaria spermatozoa and allowed producing developing larvae in vitro. IVF success under these conditions was 65% in A. palmata and 53% in F. scutaria on particular nights; however, on subsequent nights, the same process resulted in little or no IVF success. Thus, the window for optimal freezing of high quality spermatozoa was short (?5 h for one night each spawning cycle). Additionally, cryopreserved F. scutaria embryonic cells had?50% post-thaw viability as measured by intact membranes. Thus, despite some differences between species, coral spermatozoa and embryonic cells are viable after low temperature (-196°C) storage, preservation and thawing. Based on these results, we have begun systematically banking coral spermatozoa and embryonic cells on a large-scale as a support approach for preserving existing bio- and genetic diversity found in reef systems.
To build new tools for the continued protection and propagation of coral from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), an international group of coral and cryopreservation scientists known as the Reef Recovery Initiative joined forces during the November 2011 mass-spawning event. The outcome was the creation of the first frozen bank for Australian coral from two important GBR reef-building species, Acropora tenuis and Acropora millepora. Approximately 190 frozen samples each with billions of cells were placed into long-term storage. Sperm cells were successfully cryopreserved, and after thawing, samples were used to fertilize eggs, resulting in functioning larvae. Additionally, developing larvae were dissociated, and these pluripotent cells were cryopreserved and viable after thawing. Now, we are in a unique position to move our work from the laboratory to the reefs to develop collaborative, practical conservation management tools to help secure Australias coral biodiversity.
Laboratories around the world have produced tens of thousands of mutant and transgenic zebrafish lines. As with mice, maintaining all of these valuable zebrafish genotypes is expensive, risky, and beyond the capacity of even the largest stock centers. Because reducing oxidative stress has become an important aspect of reducing the variability in mouse sperm cryopreservation, we examined whether antioxidants might improve cryopreservation of zebrafish sperm. Four experiments were conducted in this study. First, we used the xanthine-xanthine oxidase (X-XO) system to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS). The X-XO system was capable of producing a stress reaction in zebrafish sperm reducing its sperm motility in a concentration dependent manner (P<0.05). Second, we examined X-XO and the impact of antioxidants on sperm viability, ROS and motility. Catalase (CAT) mitigated stress and maintained viability and sperm motility (P>0.05), whereas superoxide dismutase (SOD) and vitamin E did not (P<0.05). Third, we evaluated ROS in zebrafish spermatozoa during cryopreservation and its effect on viability and motility. Methanol (8%) reduced viability and sperm motility (P<0.05), but the addition of CAT mitigated these effects (P>0.05), producing a mean 2.0 to 2.9-fold increase in post-thaw motility. Fourth, we examined the effect of additional cryoprotectants and CAT on fresh sperm motility. Cryoprotectants, 8% methanol and 10% dimethylacetamide (DMA), reduced the motility over the control value (P<0.5), whereas 10% dimethylformamide (DMF) with or without CAT did not (P>0.05). Zebrafish sperm protocols should be modified to improve the reliability of the cryopreservation process, perhaps using a different cryoprotectant. Regardless, the simple addition of CAT to present-day procedures will significantly improve this process, assuring increased and less variable fertilization success and allowing resource managers to dependably plan how many straws are needed to safely cryopreserve a genetic line.
Around the world, coral reefs are dying due to human influences, and saving habitat alone may not stop this destruction. This investigation focused on the biological processes that will provide the first steps in understanding the cryobiology of whole coral fragments. Coral fragments are a partnership of coral tissue and endosymbiotic algae, Symbiodinium sp., commonly called zooxanthellae. These data reflected their separate sensitivities to chilling and a cryoprotectant (dimethyl sulfoxide) for the coral Pocillopora damicornis, as measured by tissue loss and Pulse Amplitude Modulated fluorometry 3weeks post-treatment. Five cryoprotectant treatments maintained the viability of the coral tissue and zooxanthellae at control values (1M dimethyl sulfoxide at 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0h exposures, and 1.5M dimethyl sulfoxide at 1.0 and 1.5h exposures, P>0.05, ANOVA), whereas 2M concentrations did not (P<0.05, ANOVA). A seasonal response to chilling was observed in the coral tissue, but not in the zooxanthellae. During the winter when the fragments were chilled, the coral tissue remained relatively intact (?25% loss) post-treatment, but the zooxanthellae numbers in the tissue declined after 5min of chilling (P<0.05, ANOVA). However, in the late spring, coral tissue (?75% loss) and zooxanthellae numbers declined in response to chilling alone (P<0.05, ANOVA). When a cryoprotectant (1M dimethyl sulfoxide) was used in concert with chilling it protected the coral against tissue loss after 45min of cryoprotectant exposure (P>0.05, ANOVA), but it did not protect against the loss of zooxanthellae (P<0.05, ANOVA). The zooxanthellae are the most sensitive element in the coral fragment complex and future cryopreservation protocols must be guided by their greater sensitivity.
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