Characterization of bacterial, archaeal and eukaryote symbionts from antarctic sponges reveals a high diversity at a three-domain level and a particular signature for this ecosystem


Sponge-associated microbial communities include members from the three domains of life. In the case of bacteria, they are diverse, host specific and different from the surrounding seawater. However, little is known about the diversity and specificity of Eukarya and Archaea living in association with marine sponges. This knowledge gap is even greater regarding sponges from regions other than temperate and tropical environments. In Antarctica, marine sponges are abundant and important members of the benthos, structuring the Antarctic marine ecosystem. In this study, we used high throughput ribosomal gene sequencing to investigate the three-domain diversity and community composition from eight different Antarctic sponges. Taxonomic identification reveals that they belong to families Acarnidae, Chalinidae, Hymedesmiidae, Hymeniacidonidae, Leucettidae, Microcionidae, and Myxillidae. Our study indicates that there are different diversity and similarity patterns between bacterial/archaeal and eukaryote microbial symbionts from these Antarctic marine sponges, indicating inherent differences in how organisms from different domains establish symbiotic relationships. In general, when considering diversity indices and number of phyla detected, sponge-associated communities are more diverse than the planktonic communities. We conclude that three-domain microbial communities from Antarctic sponges are different from surrounding planktonic communities, expanding previous observations for Bacteria and including the Antarctic environment. Furthermore, we reveal differences in the composition of the sponge associated bacterial assemblages between Antarctic and tropical-temperate environments and the presence of a highly complex microbial eukaryote community, suggesting a particular signature for Antarctic sponges, different to that reported from other ecosystems.

Beatriz Díez Moreno
Beatriz Díez Moreno
Associate Professor.
P. Universidad Católica de Chile.
School of Biological Sciences,
Department of Molecular
Genetics and Microbiology,
Santiago, Chile.