Worldwide diversity of sponge-associated Acidobacteria

Marine sponges are ecologically important members of marine ecosystems, providing shelter and nutrition for many organisms. Due to their large filtering capabilities, they play a key functional role linking benthic and pelagic ecosystems. Many sponge species accommodate diverse microbial communities and are of supposed benefit to their host. Along with Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Chloroflexi and Poribacteria, Acidobacteria is one of the most widespread, diverse and dominant sponge-associated bacterial phyla. It has been detected in many habitats from terrestrial soils to microbial mats, but still little is known about their functional role and distribution in the marine environment. This thesis addresses the worldwide diversity of Acidobacteria in marine sponges. It aims to determine the global species richness of sponge-associated Acidobacteria, and whether the structure of these symbiotic assemblages differs from those found in marine sediments and seawater. Further, abundance and diversity measures are compared between countries and host orders, to answer the questions whether acidobacterial communities correlate with host taxonomy and/or with biogeography and which of these factors can better explain the similarities within sponge-associated acidobacterial communities. To this end, a large dataset comprising 16S rRNA gene profiles in the framework of the Earth Microbiome Project was analysed.

Promotor(s) & Supervisor: Rodrigo Costa

ISCED Categories

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0511 - Biology