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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2012 Sep;10(9):641-54. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2839. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

Genomic insights into the marine sponge microbiome.

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Julius-von-Sachs-Institute for Biological Sciences, University of Würzburg, Julius-von-Sachs Platz 3, 97082 Würzburg, Germany.


Marine sponges (phylum Porifera) often contain dense and diverse microbial communities, which can constitute up to 35% of the sponge biomass. The genome of one sponge, Amphimedon queenslandica, was recently sequenced, and this has provided new insights into the origins of animal evolution. Complementary efforts to sequence the genomes of uncultivated sponge symbionts have yielded the first glimpse of how these intimate partnerships are formed. The remarkable microbial and chemical diversity of the sponge-microorganism association, coupled with its postulated antiquity, makes sponges important model systems for the study of metazoan host-microorganism interactions, and their evolution, as well as for enabling access to biotechnologically important symbiont-derived natural products. In this Review, we discuss our current understanding of the interactions between marine sponges and their microbial symbiotic consortia, and highlight recent insights into these relationships from genomic studies.

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