Sponges (Porifera)

Volume 37 of the series Progress in Molecular and Subcellular Biology pp 35-57

Sponge-Associated Bacteria: General Overview and Special Aspects of Bacteria Associated with Halichondria panicea

  • J. F. ImhoffAffiliated withInstitut für Meereskunde, Universität Kiel
  • , R. StöhrAffiliated withInstitut für Meereskunde, Universität Kiel

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Increasing evidence is accumulating that highlights the important role of bacteria in bacteria—sponge associations. It appears to be equally important to analyse the specific association of bacteria with sponges, to realise the biological function of biologically active substances produced by sponge-associated bacteria, and to consider the relationship between bacteria and sponges in the search for new pharmaceutical products. In this chapter the current knowledge on bacteria—sponge associations is briefly reviewed. Results are summarised that were obtained by three major methodological approaches: (1) classical microscope observations, (2) investigations attempting to characterise sponge-associated bacteria by describing pure culture isolates, and (3) the rapidly growing evidence from genetic analyses of sponge-associated bacteria. Special emphasis is given to the evidence of possible symbiotic interactions between bacteria and sponges and to the synthesis of natural products by bacteria isolated from or associated with marine sponges. Case studies including morphological and genetic studies together with results from pure culture studies have been performed with bacteria from the sponges Rhodopaloeides odorabile, Aplysina cavernicola, and Halichondria panicea. In addition, new results on bacteria associated with Halichondria panicea are also presented.