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Journal Article

An anaerobic world in sponges


Hoffmann,  F.
HGF MPG Joint Research Group for Deep Sea Ecology & Technology, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;


Larsen,  O.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Hoffmann, F., Larsen, O., Thiel, V., Rapp, H. T., Pape, T., Michaelis, W., et al. (2005). An anaerobic world in sponges. Geomicrobiology Journal, 22(1-2), 1-10.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-D07B-A
Associated microorganisms have been described in numerous marine sponges. Their metabolic activity, however, has not yet been investigated in situ. We quantified for the first time microbial processes in a living sponge. Sulfate reduction rates of up to 1200 nmol cm−3d−1 were measured in the cold-water bacteriosponge Geodia barretti . Oxygen profiles and chemical analysis of sponge tissue and canal water revealed steep oxygen gradients and a rapid turnover of oxygen and sulfide, dependent on the pumping activity of the sponge. Identification of the microbial community with fluorescently labelled oligonucleotide probes (FISH) indicates the presence of sulfate-reducing bacteria belonging to the Desulfoarculus/Desulfomonile/Syntrophus -cluster in the choanosome of this sponge. Analysis of lipid biomarkers indicates biomass transfer from associated sulfate-reducing bacteria or other anaerobic microbes to sponge cells. These results show the presence of an anoxic micro-ecosystem in the sponge G. barretti, and imply mutualistic interactions between sponge cells and anaerobic microbes. Understanding the importance of anaerobic processes within the sponge/microbe system may help to answer unsolved questions in sponge ecology and biotechnology.