Exploring deep-sea sponge ground ecosystems

The deep-sea is the largest, but also the most understudied ecosystem on our planet. At the same time, it is already in need of protection from anthropogenic stressors. We engage in extensive field work to collect specimens from different sponge ground ecosystems in the North Atlantic, but also Southern Oceans. Samples are analyzed for microbial diversity and function by amplicon sequencing, meta-omics, and microscopy. We correlate selected biogeochemical parameters of the collection sites with sponge microbiome composition to infer to what extent the ecosystem influences microbial community composition and vice versa, how sponge symbionts affect the biogeochemical cycling of key nutrients like carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous in the deep sea (Kathrin Busch). In this Pan-Atlantic effort, our molecular analyses (Dr. Beate Slaby) will reveal microbial adaptation to a lifestyle within sponges and contribute to an improved understanding of ecological processes and pathways in understudied deep-sea sponge habitats.

People

Publications

Bayer K, Busch K, Kenchington E, Beazley L, Franzenburg S, Michels J, Hentschel U, Slaby BM (2020) Microbial strategies for survival in the glass sponge Vazella pourtalesii. bioRxiv: doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.28.122663

Busch K, Beazley L, Kenchington E, Whoriskey F, Slaby B, Hentschel U (2020) Microbial diversity of the glass sponge Vazella pourtalesii in response to anthropogenic activities. bioRxiv: doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.19.102806

Busch K, Hanz U, Mienis F, Müller B, Franke A, Roberts EM, Rapp HT, Hentschel U (2020) On giant shoulders: How a seamount affects the microbial community composition of seawater and sponges. Biogeosciences: doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-15

Steinert G, Busch K, Bayer K, Kodami S, Martinez Arbizu P, Kelly M, Mills S, Erpenbeck D, Dohrmann M, Wörheide G, Hentschel U, Peter J. Schupp PJ (2020) Compositional and quantitative insights into bacterial and archaeal communities of South Pacific deep-sea sponges (Demospongiae and Hexactinellida). Front Microbiol 11, 716: doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2020.00716

Rubin-Blum M, Antony CP, Sayavedra L, Birgel D, Peckmann J, Wu YC, Cárdenas P, Martinez-Perez C, Marcon Y, MacDonald I, Sahling H, Hentschel U, Dubilier N (2019) Fueled by methane: Deep-sea sponges from asphalt seeps gain their nutrition from methane-oxidizing symbionts. ISME J. 13(5):1209-1225; doi: 10.1038/s41396-019-0346-7.

Funding

H2020 SponGES: Deep-sea Sponge Grounds Ecosystems of the North Atlantic: an integrated approach towards their preservation and sustainable exploitation

http://www.deepseasponges.org/