Exploring deep-sea sponge microbiomes

Most of our current more detailed knowledge on sponge microbiology was obtained from a dozen sponge species that were largely chosen for reasons of experimental tractability or sampling access. Considering that an estimated 8500 species are validly described and that true taxonomic diversity is estimated to be much higher (cryptic species), only the very tip of the iceberg has been scratched. Such discovery-based research sets the stage for more application-oriented collaborations aimed at bioprospecting active substances from these animal microcosms. I am particularly interested in sponges of the deep-sea such as those of hydrothermal vents, methane seeps, cold-water reefs and other extreme environments. Also, the polar seas hold great promise as large populations of hexactinellids have been discovered.

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.

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