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Prog Mol Subcell Biol. 2003;37:59-88.

Microbial diversity of marine sponges.

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Institut für Molekulare Infektionsbiologie, Universität Würzburg, Röntgenring 11, 97070 Würzburg, Germany.


The recent application of molecular microbial ecology tools to sponge-microbe associations has revealed a glimpse into the biodiversity of these microbial communities, that is considered just 'the tip of the iceberg'. This chapter provides an overview over these new findings with regard to identity, diversity and distribution patterns of sponge-associated microbial consortia. The sponges Aplysina aerophoba (Verongida), Rhopaloeides odorabile (Dicytoceratida) and Theonella swinhoei (Lithistida) were chosen as model systems for this review because they have been subject to both, cultivation-dependent and cultivation-independent approaches. A discussion of the microbial assemblages of Halichondriapanicea is presented in the accompanying chapter by Imhoff and Stöhr. Considering that a large fraction of sponge-associated microbes is not yet amenable to cultivation, an emphasis has been placed on the techniques centering around the 16S rRNA gene. A section has been included that covers the potential of sponge microbial communities for drug discovery. Finally, a 'sponge-microbe interaction model' is presented that summarizes our current understanding of the processes that might have shaped the community structure of the microbial assemblages within sponges.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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