Long-Term Culturing of Placozoans (Trichoplax and Hoilungia)

Methods Mol Biol. 2024:2757:509-529. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-3642-8_21.


The phylum Placozoa remains one of the least explored among early-branching metazoan lineages. For over 130 years, this phylum had been represented by the single species Trichoplax adhaerens-an animal with the simplest known body plan (three cell layers without any organs) but complex behaviors. Recently, extensive sampling of placozoans across the globe and their subsequent genetic analysis have revealed incredible biodiversity with numerous cryptic species worldwide. However, only a few culture protocols are available to date, and all are for one species only. Here, we describe the breeding of four different species representing two placozoan genera: Trichoplax adhaerens, Trichoplax sp. H2, Hoilungia sp. H4, and Hoilungia hongkongensis originating from diverse biotopes. Our protocols allow to culture all species under comparable conditions. Next, we outlined various food sources and optimized strain-specific parameters enabling long-term culturing. These protocols can facilitate comparative analyses of placozoan biology and behaviors, which together will contribute to deciphering general principles of animal organization.

Keywords: Culture; Early-branching metazoa; Evolution; Hoilungia; Placozoan; Polyplacotoma; Trichoplax.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Placozoa* / genetics