Co-cultivation of the marine sponge Halichondria panicea and its associated microorganisms

Stephen Knobloch, Ragnar Jóhannsson, Viggó Marteinsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Marine sponges host bacterial symbionts with biotechnological potential, yet isolation of true sponge symbionts remains difficult due to their host dependency. Moreover, attempts to grow sponges for their pharmacologically-active compounds outside of their habitat often results in a shift of their microbial community. In this study we evaluate suitable sponge cultivation methods that allow maintenance of both the marine sponge Halichondria panicea and its associated bacteria in an ex situ environment. In addition, we present a method for co-cultivation of sponge explants and microbes separated by a membrane in a multi-chamber device. Tests on ex situ cultivation of H. panicea under different controlled conditions showed that only high water exchange rates in the aquarium enabled maintenance of its dominant symbiont “Candidatus Halichondribacter symbioticus” at a high relative abundance in the sponge body, a prerequisite for co-cultivation. The bacterial enrichment retrieved from co-cultivation contained bacteria from nine different classes in addition to sequences corresponding to “Ca. H. symbioticus”. This represents an increase of the cultivable bacterial classes from H. panicea compared to standard isolation techniques on solid media plates. The current study provides insights into sponge-microbe maintenance under ex situ conditions and proposes a new method for the isolation of sponge-associated bacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10403
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2019

Other keywords

  • Applied microbiology
  • Environmental microbiology
  • Örverufræði
  • Svampdýr


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