Characterization of archaeal symbionts of sponges from the coral reef ecosystems of the Gulf of Mannar, Southeast coast of India
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Sponges accommodate a diverse group of microorganisms with varied metabolic capabilities. The bacterial associates of sponges are widely studied while our understanding of archaeal counterparts is scanty. In the present study, we report the archaeal associates of two sponges, Pseudoceratina purpurea (NCBI barcode: KX454492) and Cinachyra sp. (NCBI barcode: KX454495), found in the coral reef ecosystems of Gulf of Mannar, India. Archaea in the water column was predominated by members of class Halobacteria of Phylum Euryarchaeota (97%) followed by a minor fraction (3%) of Nitrosopumilus sp. of phylum Thaumarchaeota. Interestingly, Thaumarchaeota was identified as the sole archaeal population associated with the two sponges studied, among which Nitrosopumilus sp. occuppied 80 and 100% of the sequences in the clone library of P. purpurea and Cinachyra sp. respectively. Other archaea found in the P. purpurea were Nitrososphaera (10%) and unclassified ones (10%). The study identified Nitrosopumilus sp. as a unique symbiotic archaeon of sponges, P. purpurea and Cinachyra sp. The existence of host driven factors in selecting specific associates from a diverse group of archaea in the environment may need further investigations.
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