Spatial distribution of bacteria associated with the marine sponge Tethya californiana

D. Sipkema, H.W. Blanch

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Microbial diversity and spatial distribution of the diversity within tissue of the marine sponge Tethya californiana was analyzed based on 16S rRNA gene sequences. One candidate division and nine bacterial phyla were detected, including members of all five subdivisions of Proteobacteria. Moreover, chloroplast-derived Stramenopiles- and Rhodophyta-affiliated 16S rRNA gene sequences were found and Stramenopiles represented the most abundant clones (30%) in the clone library. On the phylum-level, the microbial fingerprint of T. californiana showed a similar pattern as its Mediterranean relative T. aurantium. An interesting difference was that Cyanobacteria that were abundantly present in T. aurantium were not found in T. californiana, but that the latter sponges harbored phototrophic Stramenopiles instead. Surprisingly, the phototrophic microorganisms were evenly distributed over the inner and outer parts of the sponge tissue, which implies that they also reside in regions without direct light exposure. The other phyla were also present in both the outer cortex and the mesohyl of the sponges. These results were confirmed by analysis on the operational taxonomic unit level. This leads to the conclusion that from a qualitative point of view, spatial distribution of microorganisms in T. californiana tissue is quite homogeneous. Thirty-two percent of the operational taxonomic units shared less than 95% similarity with any other known sequence. This indicates that marine sponges are a rich source of previously undetected microbial life
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-638
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • microbial community
  • aplysina-aerophoba
  • ribosomal-rna
  • antimicrobial activity
  • phylogenetic analysis
  • diversity
  • demospongiae
  • alignments
  • symbionts
  • porifera

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