Evidence for a symbiosis between bacteria of the genus Rhodobacter and the marine sponge Halichondria panicea : harbor also for putatively toxic bacteria?
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Halichondria panicea (Pallas) is a marine sponge, abundantly occurring in the Adriatic Sea, North Sea, and Baltic Sea. It was the aim of the present study to investigate if this sponge species harbors bacteria. Cross sections through H. panicea were taken and inspected by electron microscopy. The micrographs showed that this sponge species is colonized by bacteria in its mesohyl compartment. To identify the bacteria, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis of the 16S rRNA gene segment, typical for bacteria, was performed. DNA was isolated from sponge material that had been collected near Rovinj (Adriatic Sea), Helgoland (North Sea), and Kiel (Baltic Sea) and was amplified with bacterial primers by PCR. The data gathered indicate that in all samples bacteria belonging to the genus Rhodobacter (Proteobacteria, subdivision α) are dominant, suggesting that these bacteria live in symbiotic relationship with the sponge. In addition, the results show that the different samples taken contain further bacterial species, some of them belonging to the same genus even though found in sponges from different locations. The possibility of the presence of toxic bacteria was supported by the finding that organic extracts prepared from sponge samples displayed toxicity, when analyzed in vitro using leukemia cells.
KeywordsPolymerase Chain Reaction Sponge Proteobacteria Gene Segment Organic Extract
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