Microbial Ecology

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 167–177 | Cite as

The Biogeography and Phylogeny of Unicellular Cyanobacterial Symbionts in Sponges from Australia and the Mediterranean

  • K.M. Usher
  • J. Fromont
  • D.C. Sutton
  • S. Toze


The distribution, host associations, and phylogenetic relationships of the unicellular cyanobacterial symbionts of selected marine sponges were investigated with direct 16s rDNA sequencing. The results indicate that the symbionts of the marine sponges Aplysina aerophoba, Ircinia variabilis, and Petrosia ficiformis from the Mediterranean, four Chondrilla species from Australia and the Mediterranean, and Haliclona sp. from Australia support a diversity of symbionts comprising at least four closely related species of Synechococcus. These include the symbionts presently described as Aphanocapsa feldmannii from P. ficiformis and Chondrilla nucula. A fifth symbiont from Cymbastela marshae in Australia is an undescribed symbiont of sponges, related to Oscillatoria rosea. One symbiont, Candidatus Synechococcus spongiarum, was found in diverse sponge genera in the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian, Pacific, and Southern oceans, whereas others were apparently more restricted in host association and distribution. These results are discussed in terms of the biodiversity and biogeographic distributions of cyanobacterial symbionts.


Sponge Synechococcus Marine Sponge Color Morph Prochlorococcus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Steve Cook, Queensland Museum, and Dr Andrew Davis, University of Woollongong, NSW, for supplying samples of Chondrilla australiensis. We also thank Prof. Jean Vacelet, Centre d’Océanologie de Marseille, for assistance in collecting sponge samples from the Mediterranean Sea, and Martina Milanese, University of Genoa, and Marzia Sidri, University of Stuttgart, for collecting samples from the Ligurian Sea. We also thank Dr Jason Plumb, CSIRO, for assistance with DGGE and the Australasian Diving Academy, Claremont, Western Australia, for subsidizing diving expenses. This study was supported by a grant from the Australian Biological Resources Study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Discipline of Microbiology, School of Biomedical and Chemical SciencesUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyWestern Australia
  2. 2.Western Australian MuseumPerthWestern Australia
  3. 3.CSIRO Land and WaterFloreatWestern Australia

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