Sponge responses towards microbial and environmental cues

Research led by Dr. Lucia Pita and team aims to decipher the molecular underpinnings how sponges respond and adapt to diverse signals ranging from microorganisms/ microbial elicitors, to food predators and environmental stressors. This effort is motivated by the hypothesis that sponges, as early-diverging animals, can provide insights into evolutionarily conserved animal response mechanisms related to innate immunity, phagocytosis and wound healing. Additional efforts are directed at understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of sponge-microbe interactions in ecologically relevant contexts. Two co-occurring Mediterranean sponge species, one naturally containing high microbial abundances of microorganisms, and one naturally lacking microbial consortia are being studied in a comparative approach by using RNA-sequencing, genomics, and experimental field work.

How do sponges sense, respond and adapt to the environment?

Curious? Pls look at the homepages for more information





Dr. Lucia Pita, Lara Schmittmann, Angela Marulanda

Selected publications

Wu  YC, García-Altares  M, Franzenburg S, Ribes  M, Hentschel  U, Pita L (in revision) The response of the Mediterranean sponge Aplysina aerophoba to grazing by the sea slug Tylodina perversa

Dierking K, Pita L (2020) Receptors mediating host-microbiota communication in the metaorganism: The Invertebrate Perspective. Front. Immunol. 11: 1251. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.01251

Pita L, Rix L, Slaby BM, Franke A, Hentschel U (2018) The sponge holobiont in a changing ocean: from microbes to ecosystems. Microbiome doi: 10.1186/s40168-018-0428-1.

Sieber M, Pita L, Wiland-Bräuer N, Dirksen P, Wang J, Mortzfeld B, Franzenburg F, Schmitz RA, Baines JF, Fraune S, Henschel U, Schulenburg H, Bosch TCG, Traulsen A. (2019) Neutrality in the Metaorganism. Plos Biology, 17 (6): e3000298

Pita L, Hoeppner MP, Ribes M, Hentschel U (2018) Differential expression of immune receptors in two marine sponges upon exposure to microbial-associated molecular patterns. Sci. Rep. doi 10.1038/s41598-018-34330-w.



SFB 1182/2: Origin and Function of Metaorganisms


DFG IMMUBASE: Comparative Immunogenomics of Basal Marine Metazoans