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Fungi and other eukaryotes represent one of the last frontiers of microbial diversity in the sponge holobiont. In this study we employed pyrosequencing of 18S ribosomal RNA gene amplicons containing the V7 and V8 hypervariable regions to explore the fungal diversity of seven sponge species from the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. For most sponges, fungi were present at a low relative abundance averaging 0.75% of the 18S rRNA gene reads. In total, 44 fungal OTUs (operational taxonomic units) were detected in sponges, and 28 of these OTUs were also found in seawater. Twentytwo of the sponge-associated OTUs were identified as yeasts (mainly Malasseziales), representing 84% of the fungal reads. Several OTUs were related to fungal sequences previously retrieved from other sponges, but all OTUs were also related to fungi from other biological sources, such as seawater, sediments, lakes and anaerobic digesters. Therefore our data, supported by currently available data, point in the direction of mostly accidental presence of fungi in sponges and do not support the existence of a sponge-specific fungal community.
- Marine sponge
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