Scanning and transmission electron microscopy revealed that SOB is accompanied by the massive destruction of the pinacoderm. Chlorophyll a content and the main secondary metabolites, tetrahydrofurans, characteristic of X.
In addition, the cyanobacteria may be responsible for the translocation of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous to the host sponge Wilkinson which likely enhances sponge growth Thacker Reports of bleaching, or loss of pigmentation, of X. In some cases, bleached sponges deteriorated and disintegrated; moreover, bleached X.
Bleaching and subsequent mortality has since been observed throughout the Caribbean Nagelkerken et al. To date, there has been no systematic investigation of mortality due to sponge bleaching, or its impact on sponge distributions and abundances. We have observed regular bleaching of X. Sponges may only become pale, or at the extreme, nearly completely white. Cyclic bleaching is usually not fatal and sponges recover over time. Many of the sponges within our study sites exhibit intense bleaching during the fall but had recovered their pigmentation by the following spring.
Sponge AFL, below, was bleached in October and had recovered seven months later. Another example, sponge ABH also exhibited bleaching and recovery within two survey periods. The cause of cyclic bleaching in X.
Bleaching is less prevalent in sponges at shallow sites, suggesting that high seawater temperatures are not responsible. Some evidence suggests that cyclic bleaching may be tied to post-reproductive stress. Fatal bleaching appears to be a separate phenomenon from cyclic bleaching. Fatal bleaching is a complete whitening of sponge tissue and results in large amounts of tissue loss or complete sponge mortality.
We are working with collaborators to further investigate fatal bleaching. Spongivory by parrotfishes in Florida mangrove and reef habitats. Identity of cyanobacterial symbionts of Xestospongia muta.
Barrel sponge bows out. Impacts of shading on sponge-cyanobateria symbioses: Response of sponges with autotrophic endosymbionts during the coral-bleaching episode in Puerto Rico West Indies. Net primary productivity in coral reef sponges.
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Sponges on reefs are the most primitive animal but they may still educate us on fundamental biological concepts, such as the role of microbial symbioses foreign cells that living with larger organisms but causing no harm.
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