Marine Ecology

Microbial diversity and function in sponge symbioses

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. 


  1. Jahn MT, Arkhipova K, Markert SM, Stigloher C, Lachnit T, Pita L, Kupczok A, Ribes M, Stengel ST, Rosenstiel P, Duthil B, Hentschel U (2019) A symbiont phage protein aids in eukaryote immune evasion. Cell Host Microbe: doi:
  2. Bayer K, Jahn MT, Slaby BM, Moitinho-Silva L, Hentschel U (2018) Marine sponges as Chloroflexi Hot Spots: Genomic insights and high resolution visualization of an abundant and diverse symbiotic clade. American Society for Microbiology Journals Published online: 26.12.2018
  3. 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 11(11):2465–2478.
  4. Moitinho-Silva L, Steinert G, Nielsen S, Hardoim CCP, Wu YC, McCormack GP, López-Legentil S, Marchant R, Webster N, Thomas T, Hentschel U (2017) Predicting the HMA-LMA status in marine sponges by machine learning. Front Microbiol 8: 752. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.00752.
  5. 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

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