Marine Ecology

Symbiont function

Model of carbon degradation in Poribacteria


The in depth analysis of symbiont function in the context of sponge symbioses is our core expertise and interest.  We employ the -omics platform, specifically metagenomics, single-cell genomics and metatranscriptomics to obtain insights into the functions and properties of sponge symbionts. Metagenomics allows us to establish the functional gene repertoire and single-cell genomics has been instrumental in linking phylogenetic identity with a putative function in a sought-after sponge symbiont. Metatranscriptomics is being employed to assess what functions are expressed at any given point in time or following experimental perturbation. The technique of single-cell genomics is highly valuable in that it allows us to link phylogeny with function.



  1. Slaby BM, Hackl T, Horn H, Bayer K, Hentschel U (2017). Metagenomic binning of a marine sponge microbiome reveals unity in defense but metabolic specialization. ISME J.: doi: 10.1038/ismej.2017.101.
  2. Jahn MT, Markert SM, Ryu T, Ravasi T, Stigloher C, Hentschel U, Moitinho-Silva L (2016) Shedding light on cell compartmentation in the candidate phylum Poribacteria by high resolution visualisation and transcriptional profiling. Sci Rep: 6:35860. doi: 10.1038/srep35860
  3. Burgsdorf I, Slaby BM, Handley KM, Haber M, Blom J, Marshall CW, Gilbert JA, Hentschel U, Steindler L (2015) Lifestyle evolution in cyanobacterial symbionts of sponges. Mbio 6(3): e00391-15; doi: 10.1128/mBio.00391-15.
  4. Moitinho-Silva L, Seridi L, Ryu T, Voolstra CR, Ravasi T, Hentschel U (2014) Revealing microbial functional activities in the Red Sea sponge Stylissa carteri by metatranscriptomics. Environ Microbiol 16(12): 3683-3698
  5. Kamke J, Rinke C, Schwientek P, Mavromatis K, Ivanova N, Sczyrba A, Woyke T, Hentschel U (2014) The candidate phylum Poribacteria by single-cell genomics: New insights into phylogeny, cell-compartmentation, eukaryote-like repeat proteins, and other genomic features. PLoS ONE 9(1): e87353; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087353.

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