Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

Subject Area

Biology

Description

The shallow, tidal flats off the islands of the lower Florida Keys represent a harsh environment for sessile marine invertebrates. This habitat is home to three taxonomically distinct sponge species that share similar rope morphologies: Cliona varians forma varians, Ircinia variabilis, and Neopetrosia subtriangularis. Despite sharing a habitat, these three species differ in their symbiont regime, with C. varians hosting dinoflagellate photosymbionts, and I. variabilis and N. subtriangularis hosting cyanobacterial photosymbionts. We conducted experiments to measure other ecological differences between these species. The sponges were all assayed for pumping rates using dye-video analysis and tissue samples were taken to compare the composition and functional genes of their microbiomes. The results indicated that N. subtriangularis had a significantly higher pumping rate than the other species. The microbiomes of the species varied, and the microbiome functional gene screening provided evidence that C. varians forma varians hosts nitrogen fixing bacteria, that I. variabilis hosts methane metabolizing bacteria, and that N. subtriangularis hosts nitric oxide reducing bacteria. More work is currently underway to examine the metabolism of these sponges, giving us insight into the unique ecology of this harsh habitat.

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May 5th, 3:00 PM May 5th, 4:30 PM

A Functional Ecological Comparison of three Sponge Species from the Lower Florida Keys

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

The shallow, tidal flats off the islands of the lower Florida Keys represent a harsh environment for sessile marine invertebrates. This habitat is home to three taxonomically distinct sponge species that share similar rope morphologies: Cliona varians forma varians, Ircinia variabilis, and Neopetrosia subtriangularis. Despite sharing a habitat, these three species differ in their symbiont regime, with C. varians hosting dinoflagellate photosymbionts, and I. variabilis and N. subtriangularis hosting cyanobacterial photosymbionts. We conducted experiments to measure other ecological differences between these species. The sponges were all assayed for pumping rates using dye-video analysis and tissue samples were taken to compare the composition and functional genes of their microbiomes. The results indicated that N. subtriangularis had a significantly higher pumping rate than the other species. The microbiomes of the species varied, and the microbiome functional gene screening provided evidence that C. varians forma varians hosts nitrogen fixing bacteria, that I. variabilis hosts methane metabolizing bacteria, and that N. subtriangularis hosts nitric oxide reducing bacteria. More work is currently underway to examine the metabolism of these sponges, giving us insight into the unique ecology of this harsh habitat.

 

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