Coral Tissue Engineering for Mass-production of Coral for the Recreational Marine Aquarium Trade and Conservation Industry

Award Information
Agency: Department of Commerce
Branch: N/A
Contract: WC133R09CN0107
Agency Tracking Number: 09-60
Amount: $400,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.1.2
Solicitation Number: NOAA-2009-1
Solicitation Year: 2009
Award Year: 2010
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): N/A
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2012-12-14
Small Business Information
DUNS: 197507291
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Craig Downs
 Executive Director
 (434) 263-5740
Business Contact
 Craig Downs
Title: Executive Director
Phone: (434) 263-5740
Research Institution


Over 10 million coral species a year are traded in the +$100 million/year ornamental-recreational aquaria industry. Over ninety percent of commercial coral specimens come from some form of mass harvesting of wild corals from coral reefs. This can have a detrimental impact to coral reefs. We invented a method of perpetual propagation of corals through tissue engineering. Hundreds to thousands of microscopic tissue explants are generated from a single coral polyp. These explants can be induced to regenerate and develop into primary coral polyps and undergo colonization. In Phase I, we evolved this technology for mass-production and to augment cryo-preservation methods to control production rates using a single coral species, Heliofungia. The method for Heliofungia is not optimal for other coral species, and often require radically different medias, as well as environmental conditions. In Phase II, we will develop and optimize methods for micropropagation and cryo-preservation for ten commercial species of coral, and two species of coral listed as “threatened” on the U.S. Endangered Species List. The ten commercial species will be necessary to demonstrate the commercial feasibility and competitiveness of this technology. The threatened species will be necessary to demonstrate the value of this technology to the conservation/restoration industry.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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