Proceedings of the 5th International Sponge Symposium: Memoirs of the Queensland Museum
Porifera, Discodermia, Microbial diversity, Bacterial symbionts, In Vitro Culture, Gene Sequencing, 16S rRNA
Sponges are well known to harbor large numbers of heterotrophic microbes within their mesohyl. Studies to determine the diversity of these associated microbes have been attempted for only a few shallow water species. We cultured various microorganisms from several species of Discodermia collected from deep water using the 'Johnson-Sea-Link' manned submersibles, and characterised them by standard microbiological identification methods. Characterisation of a small proportion (ca. 10%) of the total and potential eubacterial isolate collection with molecular systematics techniques revealed a wide diversity of microbes. Phylogenetic analyses of 32 small subunit (SSU) 16S-like rRNA gene sequences from different micorbes indicated high levels of taxonomic diversity assoiated with this genus of sponge. For example, bacteria from at least five cubacterial subdivisions - gamma, alpha, beta, Cytophaga and Gram positive - were isolated from the mesohyl of Discodermia. Several strains were unidentifiable from current sequence databases. No overlap was found between sequences of 24 isolates and 8 sequences obtained by PCR and cloning directly from sponge samples. The abundance and diversity of microbes associated with sponges such as Discodermia suggest that they may play important roles in marine microbial ecology, dispersal and evolution.
Lopez, J.V., McCarthy, P.J., Janda, K.E., Willoughby, R. & Pomponi, S.A. 1999 06 30: Molecular techniques reveal wide phyletic diversity of heterotrophic microbes associated with Discodermia spp. (Porifera: Demospongiae). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 44: 329-341. Brisbane. ISSN 0079-8835