Master's program "Geobiology and Paleobiology"

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Short-term exposure to high-temperature water causes a shift in the microbiome of the common aquarium sponge Lendenfeldia chondrodes

The study includes results from the master thesis of Laura Leiva, the second author of this study.


Vargas S., Leiva L., Wörheide G. (2020). Short-Term Exposure to High-Temperature Water Causes a Shift in the Microbiome of the Common Aquarium Sponge Lendenfeldia chondrodes. Microbial Ecology 81, 213–222.

The full text is available here.

Marine sponges harbor diverse microbiomes that contribute to their energetic and metabolic needs. Although numerous studies on sponge microbial diversity exist, relatively few focused on sponge microbial community changes under different sources of environmental stress. In this study, we assess the impact of elevated seawater temperature on the microbiome of cultured Lendenfeldia chondrodes, a coral reef sponge commonly found in marine aquaria. Lendenfeldia chondrodes exhibits high thermal tolerance showing no evidence of tissue damage or bleaching at 5 °C above control water temperature (26 °C). High- throughput sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA V4 region revealed a response of the microbiome of L. chondrodes to short- term exposure to elevated seawater temperature. Shifts in abundance and richness of the dominant bacterial phyla found in the microbiome of this species, namely Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Planctomycetes, and Bacteroidetes, characterized this response. The observed resilience of L. chondrodes and the responsiveness of its microbiome to short-term increases in seawater temperature suggest that this holobiont may be capable of acclimating to anthropogenic-driven sublethal environmental stress via a re-accommodation of its associated bacterial community. This sheds a new light on the potential for resilience of some sponges to increasing surface seawater temperatures and associated projected regime shifts in coral reefs.


The blue aquarium sponge Lendenfeldia chondrodes.