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Microbiol Res. 2009;164(2):233-41. Epub 2007 Aug 6.

Diversity of fungal isolates from three Hawaiian marine sponges.

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Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, USA.


Sponges harbor diverse prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbes. However, the nature of sponge-fungal association and diversity of sponge-derived fungi have barely been addressed. In this study, the cultivation-dependent approach was applied to study fungal diversity in the Hawaiian sponges Gelliodes fibrosa, Haliclona caerulea, and Mycale armata. The cultivated fungal isolates were representatives of 8 taxonomic orders, belonging to at least 25 genera of Ascomycota and 1 of Basidiomycota. A portion of these isolates (n=15, 17%) were closely affiliated with fungal isolates isolated from other marine habitats; the rest of the isolates had affiliation with terrestrial fungal strains. Cultivated fungal isolates were classified into 3 groups: 'sponge-generalists'-found in all sponge species, 'sponge-associates'-found in more than one sponge species, and 'sponge-specialists'-found only in one sponge species. Individuals of G. fibrosa collected at two different locations shared the same group of 'sponge-specialists'. Also, representatives of 15 genera were identified for the first time in marine sponges. Large-scale phylogenetic analysis of sponge-derived fungi may provide critical information to distinguish between 'resident fungi' and 'transient fungi' in sponges as it has been done in other marine microbial groups. This is the first report of the host specificity analysis of culturable fungal communities in marine sponges.

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