Species (common/scientific names): sea squirt/ Ciona intestinalis

Disciplines: Developmental, Molecular, and Evolutionary Biology

Laboratory Culture of the Ascidian Ciona intestinalis (L.): A Model System For Molecular Developmental Biology Research

Paola Cirino, Alfonso Toscano, Davide Caramiello, Alberto Macina, Valentina Miraglia, and Assunta Monte.

Stazione Zoologica "A. Dohrn," Villa Comunale, 80121 Naples, Italy

Ascidians have long been established as a valuable research system in many fields of biological sciences, such as developmental, cellular, and evolutionary biology, but they have become particularly popular in recent years. Populations of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis are reared in our laboratory from larva to sexual maturity, and our objective in this paper is to present practical details of the culture methods. Larvae are obtained by in vitro fertilization, using gametes freshly collected from adults. Post metamorphic juveniles, settled on plastic dishes, grow in experimental aquaria with running seawater. With a multicomponent diet consisting of algae and particulate food, mixed and introduced into the aquaria via a continuous inoculation method, the cultured C. intestinalis reach sexual maturity in about 2 months. The ability to maintain cultured stock populations in the laboratory allows the creation of inbred lines that will enhance the use of C. intestinalis as an animal model in developmental and molecular biology research.

Table of Contents

Cirino, P., A. Toscano, D. Caramiello, A. Macina, V. Miraglia, and A. Monte. Nov. 27, 2002. Laboratory culture of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis (L.): a model system for molecular developmental biology research. Mar. Mod. Elec. Rec. [serial online]. Available: http://www.mbl.edu/html/BB/MMER/CIR/CirTit.html [year, month, day].