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Microsc Res Tech. 2003 Nov 1;62(4):327-35.

Sponge cell reactivity to various forms of silica.

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Dipartimento di Scienze del Mare, Università Politecnica di Ancona, I-60131 Ancona, Italy.


Several sponge species incorporate a wide range of foreign material. Whether such material is actively selected by the sponge is controversial. Here we compare the available suspended matter and the sediment incorporated in the tissue of the demosponge Chondrosia reniformis. Field observations and laboratory experiments indicate that this species selects and incorporates only siliceous materials, in particular quartz particles and opal sponge spicules, avoiding carbonate particles. The reaction of ectosome cells of Chondrosia depends on the forms of silica: after settlement of crystalline quartz particles on the sponge surface, the pinacocytes contract uniformly, giving rise to a ruffled surface that remains throughout the incorporation of foreign material. In contrast, the opal spicules elicit a motile response in pinacocytes, which cover the spicules as a result. After incorporation, while the opal spicules remain unaltered within sponge tissue, the engulfed quartz particles are quickly etched, reduced in size, and released from the sponge. The etching of quartz particles by C. reniformis is produced by ascorbic acid, and is the first evidence of such activity from the animal kingdom. Ascorbic acid has been found to change the quartz surface features, which leads to an increased radical production and a consequent dissolution of quartz. This process does not occur on opal spicules.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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