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Painted turtles are remarkable for their freeze tolerance and supercooling ability along with their associated resilience to hypoxia/anoxia and oxidative stress, rendering them an ideal biomedical model for hypoxia-induced injuries (including strokes), tissue cooling during surgeries, and organ cryopreservation. Yet, such research is hindered by their seasonal reproduction and slow maturation. Here we developed and characterized adult stem cell-derived turtle liver organoids (3D self-assembled in vitro structures) from painted, snapping, and spiny softshell turtles spanning ~175My of evolution, with a subset cryopreserved. This development is, to the best of our knowledge, a first for this vertebrate Order, and complements the only other non-avian reptile organoids from snake venom glands. Preliminary characterization, including morphological, transcriptomic, and proteomic analyses, revealed organoids enriched in cholangiocytes. Deriving organoids from distant turtles and life stages demonstrates that our techniques are broadly applicable to chelonians, permitting the development of functional genomic tools currently lacking in herpetological research. Such platform could potentially support studies including genome-to-phenome mapping, gene function, genome architecture, and adaptive responses to climate change, with implications for ecological, evolutionary, and biomedical research.


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Nature Communications



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Mentor/PI Department

Office of Human Genetics



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