Functional characterization and taxonomic classification of novel gammaproteobacterial diversity in sponges

Viet Hung Nguyen, Bernd Wemheuer, Weizhi Song, Holly Bennett, Giorgia Palladino, Ilia Burgsdorf, Sofia Sizikov, Laura Steindler, Nicole S. Webster, Torsten Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sponges harbour exceptionally diverse microbial communities, whose members are largely uncultured. The class Gammaproteobacteria often dominates the microbial communities of various sponge species, but most of its diversity remains functional and taxonomically uncharacterised. Here we reconstructed and characterised 32 metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) derived from three sponge species. These MAGs represent ten novel species and belong to seven orders, of which one is new. We propose nomenclature for all these taxa. These new species comprise sponge-specific bacteria with varying levels of host specificity. Functional gene profiling highlights significant differences in metabolic capabilities across the ten species, though each also often exhibited a large degree of metabolic diversity involving various nitrogen- and sulfur-based compounds. The genomic features of the ten species suggest they have evolved to form symbiotic interaction with their hosts or are well-adapted to survive within the sponge environment. These Gammaproteobacteria are proposed to scavenge substrates from the host environment, including metabolites or cellular components of the sponge. Their diverse metabolic capabilities may allow for efficient cycling of organic matter in the sponge environment, potentially to the benefit of the host and other symbionts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126401
JournalSystematic and Applied Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier GmbH


  • Alcohol oxidation
  • Host specificity
  • Metabolism
  • Respiration
  • Symbionts
  • Taxonomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Microbiology


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