Pacific Coral Reef Institute

Sponge-Microbe Symbioses in French Polynesia (Christopher Freeman (Florida/USA) – bourse IRCP-SNH-SPDD 2014)

Thanks to an IPCR-SNH-SPDD grand 2014, Dr. Freeman came two weeks at the CRIOBE to sample sponges for his project titled “Sponge-Microbe symbioses in French Polynesia”. With Dr. Cole Easson, they collected replicate individuals of 10-12 sponge species from 12 sites on the Northern coast of Moorea (see map below).

Sites d'échantillonnages sur l'île de Moorea

Sample sites at Moorea Island

Chris Freeman (à gauche) et son collègue Cole Easson entre les Motus de Moorea pendant un échantillonnage d'éponges

Chris Freeman (on left) and colleague Cole Easson at the Motu collecting sponges

The goal was to survey diverse sponge-microbe symbioses throughout Moorea by carrying out the following objectives:

Objective 1: What is the current status of sponge-microbe symbioses throughout this area and how are these symbioses impacted by anthropogenic stressors?

Objective 2: What is the interconnectivity between anthropogenic stressors and holobiont productivity and the efficiency of symbiont nutrient assimilation and nutrient transfer to host sponges?

During their study, Drs. Freeman and Easson compared symbiont populations within sponges from different sites (specifically bay versus lagoon and reef slope) to observe how microbial community composition changes across sites in Moorea. First results showed that some sponges from Moorea host symbionts were capable of photosynthesis.  To read the preliminary report, click here.

Eponge Dysidea sp.

Dysidea sp. sponge

Eponge dans la baie d'Opunohu

Sponge from Opunohu bay

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