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PeerJ. 2018 Sep 24;6:e5586. doi: 10.7717/peerj.5586. eCollection 2018.

Identification of an aquaculture poriferan "Pest with Potential" and its phylogenetic implications.

Author information

Department of Earth- and Environmental Sciences, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany.
Department of Zoology, School of Biological Sciences, Formerly: University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.
Biodiversity Program, Queensland Museum, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, Griffith University, Nathan, Queensland, Australia.
Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Institute of Environmental Sciences, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands.
Australian Institute of Marine Science, Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia.
GeoBio-Center, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany.
SNSB-Bavarian State Collections of Palaeontology and Geology, Munich, Germany.


Correct identification and classification of sponges is challenging due to ambiguous or misleading morphological features. A particular case is a blue keratose sponge occasionally referred to as the "Blue Photo Sponge" among aquarists, which appears frequently (and in several cases unintended) in private aquaria. This spicule-less species, occasionally specified as Collospongia auris Bergquist, Cambie & Kernan 1990, not only displays a high phenotypic plasticity in growth form and colour, it also proliferates in aquacultures under standard conditions unlike most other sponges. Therefore, this species is regarded as a pest for most aquarists. In turn, the ease of cultivation and propagation in aquacultures qualifies this species as a model organism for a wide array of scientific applications. For these purposes, correct identification and classification are indispensable. We reconstructed ribosomal gene trees and determined this species as Lendenfeldia chondrodes (De Laubenfels, 1954) (Phyllospongiinae), distant to Collospongia auris, and corroborated by skeletal features. Additionally, the resulting phylogeny corroborated major shortcomings of the current Phyllospongiinae classification-its consequences are discussed.


Aquaria; Aquaria sponge; Collospongia auris; Demospongiae; Keratosa; Lendenfeldia chondrodes; Model organism; Molecular taxonomy; Porifera; Sponges

Conflict of interest statement

Merrick Ekins and John N.A. Hooper are employed by the Queensland Museum, Nicole J. de Voogd is employed by the Naturalis Biodiversity Center.

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