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Microb Ecol. 2008 Apr;55(3):406-14. Epub 2007 Aug 4.

Unique microbial signatures of the alien Hawaiian marine sponge Suberites zeteki.

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Department of Biosynthesis of Natural Products, Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing 100050, People's Republic of China.


Invasive species poses a threat to the world's oceans. Alien sponges account for the majority of introduced marine species in the isolated Hawaiian reef ecosystems. In this study, cultivation-dependent and cultivation-independent techniques were applied to investigate microbial consortia associated with the alien Hawaiian marine sponge Suberites zeteki. Its microbial communities were diverse with representatives of Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, alpha- and gamma-Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Chlamydiae, Planctomycetes, and Cyanobacteria. Specifically, the genus Chlamydia was identified for the first time from marine sponges, and two genera (Streptomyces and Rhodococcus) were added to the short list of culturable actinobacteria from sponges. Culturable microbial communities were dominated by Bacillus species (63%) and contained actinobacterial species closely affiliated with those from habitats other than marine sponges. Cyanobacterial clones were clustered with free-living cyanobacteria from water column and other environmental samples; they show no affiliation with other sponge-derived cyanobacteria. The low sequence similarity of Planctomycetes, Chlamydiae, and alpha-Proteobacteria clones to other previously described sequences suggested that S. zeteki may contain new lineages of these bacterial groups. The microbial diversity of S. zeteki was different from that of other studied marine sponges. This is the first report on microbial communities of alien marine invertebrate species. For the first time, it provides an insight into microbial structure within alien marine sponges in the Hawaiian marine ecosystems.

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