Cultivation of Sponges, Sponge Cells and Symbionts: Achievements and Future Prospects

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Marine sponges are a rich source of bioactive compounds with pharmaceutical potential. Since biological production is one option to supply materials for early drug development, the main challenge is to establish generic techniques for small-scale production of marine organisms. We analysed the state of the art for cultivation of whole sponges, sponge cells and sponge symbionts. To date, cultivation of whole sponges has been most successful in situ; however, optimal conditions are species specific. The establishment of sponge cell lines has been limited by the inability to obtain an axenic inoculum as well as the lack of knowledge on nutritional requirements in vitro. Approaches to overcome these bottlenecks, including transformation of sponge cells and using media based on yolk, are elaborated. Although a number of bioactive metabolite-producing microorganisms have been isolated from sponges, and it has been suggested that the source of most sponge-derived bioactive compounds is microbial symbionts, cultivation of sponge-specific microorganisms has had limited success. The current genomics revolution provides novel approaches to cultivate these microorganisms
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-337
JournalAdvances in Marine Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • marine natural-products
  • fresh-water sponge
  • biologically-active metabolites
  • chondrosia-reniformis nardo
  • petrosia-ficiformis poiret
  • ex-situ cultivation
  • organic-carbon doc
  • in-vitro
  • aplysina-aerophoba
  • secondary metabolites

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