Microbiome analysis of a disease affecting the deep-sea sponge Geodia barretti.
Luter HM, Bannister RJ, Whalan S, Kutti T, Pineda MC, Webster NS
FEMS Microbiol Ecol. May 2017. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fix074
Reports of sponge disease are becoming increasingly frequent, although almost all instances involve shallow-water, tropical species. Here, we describe the first disease affecting the deep-water sponge, Geodia barretti. The disease is characterised by brown/black discolouration of the sponge tissue, extensive levels of tissue disintegration and increased levels of fouling. Disease prevalence was quantified using video survey transects conducted between 100 and 220 meters in Korsfjorden, Norway and the microbial communities of healthy and diseased sponges were compared using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Highly divergent community profiles were evident between the different health states; with distinct community shifts involving higher relative abundances of Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes and Deltaproteobacteria in diseased individuals. In addition, three Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) were exclusively present in diseased individuals and were shared between the disease lesions and the apparently healthy tissue of diseased individuals, suggesting a non-localised infection or dysbiosis. Genomic analysis of the G. barretti microbiome combined with experimental work to assess the mechanisms of infection will further elucidate the role of microorganisms in the disease.