Characterizing the microbiomes of Antarctic sponges: a functional metagenomic approach

Scientific Reports
Mario Moreno-PinoNicole Trefault


Relatively little is known about the role of sponge microbiomes in the Antarctic marine environment, where sponges may dominate the benthic landscape. Specifically, we understand little about how taxonomic and functional diversity contributes to the symbiotic lifestyle and aids in nutrient cycling. Here we use functional metagenomics to investigate the community composition and metabolic potential of microbiomes from two abundant Antarctic sponges, Leucetta antarctica and Myxilla sp. Genomic and taxonomic analyses show that both sponges harbor a distinct microbial community with high fungal abundance, which differs from the surrounding seawater. Functional analyses reveal both sponge-associated microbial communities are enriched in functions related to the symbiotic lifestyle (e.g., CRISPR system, Eukaryotic-like proteins, and transposases), and in functions important for nutrient cycling. Both sponge microbiomes possessed genes necessary to perform processes important to nitrogen cycling (i.e., ammonia oxidation, nitrite oxidation, and denitrification), and carbon fixation. The latter indicates that Antarctic sponge microorganisms prefer light-independent pathways for CO2 fixation mediated by chemoautotrophic microorganisms. T...Continue Reading


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