Identification and chemical characterization of N-acyl-homoserine lactone quorum sensing signals across sponge species and time

Maya Britstein, Kumar Saurav, Roberta Teta, Gerardo Della Sala, Rinat Bar-Shalom, Nausicaa Stoppelli, Luca Zoccarato, Valeria Costantino, Laura Steindler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marine sponges form symbiotic relationships with complex microbial communities, yet little is known about the mechanisms by which these microbes regulate their behavior through gene expression. Many bacterial communities regulate gene expression using chemical signaling termed quorum sensing. While a few previous studies have shown presence of N-acyl-homoserine lactone (AHL)-based quorum sensing in marine sponges, the chemical identity of AHL signals has been published for only two sponge species. In this study, we screened for AHLs in extracts from 15 sponge species (109 specimens in total) from the Mediterranean and Red Sea, using a wide-range AHL biosensor. This is the first time that AHL presence was examined over time in sponges. We detected the presence of AHL in 46% of the sponge species and found that AHL signals differ for certain sponge species in time and across sponge individuals. Furthermore, for the Mediterranean sponge species Sarcotragus fasciculatus, we identified 14 different AHLs. The constant presence of specific AHL molecules in all specimens, together with varying signaling molecules between the different specimens, makes Sa. fasciculatus a good model to further investigate the function of quorum sensing in sponge-associated bacteria. This study extends the knowledge of AHL-based quorum sensing in marine sponges.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberfix182
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the staffof the Inter-University Institute (IUI) in Eilat for their assistance during the course of this study. Oshra Yosef is thanked for technical assistance and Ilia Burgsdorf for help with sponge collections. Sponge samples were collected in compliance with the permits 40246/2014 and 2015/40675 from the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority. Wewould like to thank the reviewers for their detailed review and suggestions that improved this article. Thisworkwas supported by the Israel Science Foundation [grant no. 1243/16] titled 'Identification of molecular mechanisms underlying sponge-microbiome symbiosis' and by the Program Sostegno Territoriale alle Attivit à di Ricerca (STAR) Universit à degli Studi di Napoli Federico II (UNINA) Project 'SeaLeads'. Kumar Saurav received a postdoctoral fellowship fromthe Israel Council for Higher Education (VATAT).

Publisher Copyright:
© FEMS 2017. All rights reserved.


  • N-acyl-homoserine lactone
  • Quorum sensing
  • Sarcotragus fasciculatus
  • Sponge
  • Symbiosis
  • Theonella swinhoei

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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