[Coral-List] Which sponges have cyanobacterial symbionts ?

Christine Schoenberg C.Schoenberg at aims.gov.au
Sun Oct 5 21:06:31 EDT 2014

Dear Martin,

In March 2013 we had a significant bleaching event in Western Australia. During this time we conducted a field survey on epibenthic filter feeders near Onslow in the northwest, including underwater tow imagery and representative tissue sampling for the entire community. The imagery was useful to evaluate the coral bleaching, but for sponges and gorgonians it was too difficult (not just because sponge taxonomy from images is nearly impossible). On board of the research vessel all filter feeder tissue samples were scanned with pulse amplitude modulated fluorometry (PAM, light adapted), which gave us a first indicator which organisms were supposed to be photosynthetic. But again this is tricky, because some cyanosponges apparently do not provide as strong a signal in blue light PAM assessment as other photosymbionts. I have now finished the chlorophyll analyses of ca. 300 tissue samples (450-700 nm), and again it is difficult, because of course there are no comparison data from the area for undisturbed organisms, and in Western Australia we find many new species and have now idea about their biology, but we expect 50-75% to be photosynthetic. Regreattably, chlorophyll data in the sponge world are variable, because people use very different methods for extraction and very different reference units (wet weight, volume, cell numbers...), and some of these units are inherently variable. But our data show that in the area sponges were the dominant epibenthos, many of them were photosynthetic, and by far most of those sponges appeared to have reduced chlorophyll concentrations, and they did not look very happy at the time - but better than the corals. To my knowledge this is the first sponge study that goes beyond mere observation in the field during bleaching and will include quantitative data. Next year another field trip will be conducted to the same area, attempting the same surveys. While this is predominantly meant to see whether construction work affects filter feeders it may also provide some data on how sponge communities fare during thermal events. I am working on the first publication of that material, which will contain an overview on what we know with respect to sponge bleaching, so stay tuned. By the way: While cyanobacteria are by far the most common symbionts in sponges, sponges have all sorts of photsynthetic organisms in their tissues, including Symbiodinium, diatoms and red, green and brown macroalgae. Again, information on which symbionts occur in which sponge species is widely distributed, but I have summarised some of those data to have an overview, but you can also refer to the below references. I have copied in below the abstract for the coral bleaching (in review). If you like to know how bioeroding sponges with zooxanthellae behave in heat, light and pCO2, you can go to ftp://ftp.aims.gov.au/pub/cschoenb/Schoenberg%20publications/ .

Cheers, Christine

Dr. Christine Schönberg
Australian Institute of Marine Science
The University of Western Australia Oceans Institute (MO96)
39 Fairway (corner Edward St.)
Crawley, WA 6009
ph 08-63694042
fax 08-64884585

SOME REFERENCES (there is more):

Cebrian E., Uriz M.J., Garrabou J. and Ballesteros E. (2011) Sponge mass mortalities in a warming Mediterranean Sea: Are cyanobacteria-harboring species worse off? Public Library of Science ONE 6, e20211 (13 pp.). 

Díaz M.C., Thacker R.W., Rützler K. and Piantoni C. (2007) Two new haplosclerid sponges from Caribbean Panama with symbiotic filamentous cyanobacteria, and an overview of sponge-cyanobacteria associations. In Custódio M.R., Hajdu E., Lôbo-Hajdu G. and Muricy G. (eds) Proceedings of the Seventh International Sponge Symposium. Porifera research: biodiversity, innovation and sustainability. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Museu Nacional Públicacion 28, pp. 31–39. 

Hill M. and Wilcox T. (1998) Unusual mode of symbiont repopulation after bleaching in Anthosigmella varians: acquisition of different zooxanthellae strains. Symbiosis 25, 279–289. 

Lemloh M.-L. Fromont J., Brümmer F. and Usher K.M. (2009) Diversity and abundance of photosynthetic sponges in temperate Western Australia. BioMed Central Ecology 9, e4 (13 pp.). 

Rützler K. (1990) Associations between Caribbean sponges and photosynthetic organisms. In Rützler K. (ed) Proceedings of the Third International Conference on the Biology of Sponges. New perspectives in sponge biology. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institute Press, pp. 455–466.


Coral bleaching in northwestern Australia


Abstract. We report severe bleaching in a turbid water coral community in northwestern Australia. Towed still imagery was used during a benthic survey near Onslow in March 2013 to record significant thermal stress in hard and soft corals, with 50-62% of all specimens fully bleached in 10-15 m water depth. Tabulate or foliaceous Turbinaria was the most abundant coral (46%) followed by massives such as faviids and poritids (25%). Although 2/3 of the community consisted of bleaching resistant corals, all coral groups were bleached to approximately the same proportions (massive hard corals 50% < soft corals 60% < encrusting hard corals 62% < Turbinaria 62%). While the present study used underwater imagery in areas accessible to SCUBA, we demonstrated that towed still imagery has the potential for rapid and large-scale bleaching studies in areas where diving is difficult or impossible. NOAA and environmental assessments suggest previous recurrent thermal stress in the region over the last 10 years. This caused a change in community structure, excluding bleaching vulnerable species and leaving more tolerant species, with lower coral cover. We could see no evidence for adaptation or acclimation.

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of martin.pecheux at free.fr
Sent: Saturday, 4 October 2014 8:27 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov list
Subject: [Coral-List] Which sponges have cyanobacterial symbionts ?

Dear Coral-Listers,

I think it would be quite interesting to study the bleaching of cyanobacterial-bearing sponges, to get informations from a neglected but quite other system than the zooxanthellae-corals (I study also large foraminifers with diatoms). In preparation of a bleaching experiment, I need to know which sponge order/families/species harbour cyanobacteria. Despite intensive search (in which scholar.google, thanks), I couldn't  find this information.
Does anyone can help me ?
Otherwise I already know that Xestospongia muta, Petrosia pellasarca, Spheciospongia vesparia and Aplysina sp. are those with cyanobacteria who have been reported to bleach in the field (Williams and Bunkley-Williams, 1990, Vicente, 1990, Dennis and Wicklund, 1993).


Dr Martin Pecheux
IPCC 2007 member (Nobel Peace Prize), 2014, soon IPBES Institut des Foraminifères Symbiotiques 16, rue de la Fontaine de l'Espérance
92160 Antony, France
Email : martin.pecheux at free.fr
Web : martin-pecheux.fr
Phone : +33 (0)1 40 96 01 99

L'homme descend du singe, la preuve, c'est qu'il croit en dieu.
Human's origin is monkey, proof the belief in god.
Nosotros descendemos de los monos, prueba se cree en dios.
Der Mensch stammt vom Affen ab, Beweis ist dass er an Gott glaubt.

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