Consistent association of crenarchaeal Archaea with sponges of the genus Axinella
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The association of sponges with microorganisms has been accepted to be a common feature of the phylum Porifera. Herein we describe the association between filamentous Archaea and three Mediterranean species of sponges from the family Axinellidae (Porifera: Demospongiae). Axinella damicornis, A. verrucosa and Axinella sp. harbor a high concentration of filamentous Archaea in the collagen that surrounds the siliceous spicules that form their skeleton. These Archaea have been found in every axinellid specimen studied, regardless of their environment and collection time. The morphology of the filaments has been studied using transmission electron microscopy, and they all show similar characteristics. Their nature has been determined by in situ hybridization experiments and by PCR amplification and sequencing of their 16S DNA. Each sponge species contains a single filamentous archaeal phylotype. The Archaea of the three sponges are closely related to each other and to the marine "group 1" crenarchaeotes. Our findings suggest that this newly described association could be defined as a symbiosis, where biochemical and/or metabolic relationships between the sponge hosts and their symbionts remain to be determined.
KeywordsCollagen Microscopy Electron Microscopy Transmission Electron Microscopy Siliceous
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