Nueva Esparta, Venezuela
Nueva Esparta, Venezuela

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Redmond N.E.,Smithsonian Institution | Morrow C.C.,Queen's University of Belfast | Thacker R.W.,University of Alabama at Birmingham | Diaz M.C.,Museo Marino de Margarita | And 8 more authors.
Integrative and Comparative Biology | Year: 2013

The most diverse and species-rich class of the phylum Porifera is Demospongiae. In recent years, the systematics of this clade, which contains more than 7000 species, has developed rapidly in light of new studies combining molecular and morphological observations. We add more than 500 new, nearly complete 18S sequences (an increase of more than 200%) in an attempt to further enhance understanding of the phylogeny of Demospongiae. Our study specifically targets representation of type species and genera that have never been sampled for any molecular data in an effort to accelerate progress in classifying this diverse lineage. Our analyses recover four highly supported subclasses of Demospongiae: Keratosa, Myxospongiae, Haploscleromorpha, and Heteroscleromorpha. Within Keratosa, neither Dendroceratida, nor its two families, Darwinellidae and Dictyodendrillidae, are monophyletic and Dictyoceratida is divided into two lineages, one predominantly composed of Dysideidae and the second containing the remaining families (Irciniidae, Spongiidae, Thorectidae, and Verticillitidae). Within Myxospongiae, we find Chondrosida to be paraphyletic with respect to the Verongida. We amend the latter to include species of the genus Chondrosia and erect a new order Chondrillida to contain remaining taxa from Chondrosida, which we now discard. Even with increased taxon sampling of Haploscleromorpha, our analyses are consistent with previous studies; however, Haliclona species are interspersed in even more clades. Haploscleromorpha contains five highly supported clades, each more diverse than previously recognized, and current families are mostly polyphyletic. In addition, we reassign Janulum spinispiculum to Haploscleromorpha and resurrect Reniera filholi as Janulum filholi comb. nov. Within the large clade Heteroscleromorpha, we confirmed 12 recently identified clades based on alternative data, as well as a sister-group relationship between the freshwater Spongillida and the family Vetulinidae. We transfer Stylissa flabelliformis to the genus Scopalina within the family Scopalinidae, which is of uncertain position. Our analyses uncover a large, strongly supported clade containing all heteroscleromorphs other than Spongillida, Vetulinidae, and Scopalinidae. Within this clade, there is a major division separating Axinellidae, Biemnida, Tetractinellida, Bubaridae, Stelligeridae, Raspailiidae, and some species of Petromica, Topsentia, and Axinyssa from Agelasida, Polymastiidae, Placospongiidae, Clionaidae, Spirastrellidae, Tethyidae, Poecilosclerida, Halichondriidae, Suberitidae, and Trachycladus. Among numerous results: (1) Spirophorina and its family Tetillidae are paraphyletic with respect to a strongly supported Astrophorina within Tetractinellida; (2) Agelasida is the earliest diverging lineage within the second clade listed above; and (3) Merlia and Desmacella appear to be the earliest diverging lineages of Poecilosclerida. © 2013 Published by Oxford University Press.


Rutzler K.,Smithsonian Institution | Piantoni C.,Smithsonian Institution | Piantoni C.,University of Sao Paulo | Van Soest R.W.M.,Naturalis Biodiversity Center | Diaz M.C.,Museo Marino de Margarita
Zootaxa | Year: 2014

The Caribbean barrier reef near Carrie Bow Cay, Belize, has been a focus of Smithsonian Institution (Washington) reef and mangrove investigations since the early 1970s. Systematics and biology of sponges (Porifera) were addressed by sev-eral researchers but none of the studies dealt with cryptic habitats, such as the shaded undersides of coral rubble, reef crev-ices, and caves, although a high species diversity was recognized and samples were taken for future reference and study. This paper is the result of processing samples taken between 1972 and 2012. In all, 122 species were identified, 14 of them new (including one new genus). The new species are Tetralophophora (new genus) mesoamericana, Geodia cribrata, Pla-cospongia caribica, Prosuberites carriebowensis, Timea diplasterina, Timea oxyasterina, Rhaphidhistia belizensis, Wig-ginsia curlewensis, Phorbas aurantiacus, Myrmekioderma laminatum, Niphates arenata, Siphonodictyon occultum, Xestospongia purpurea, and Aplysina sciophila. We determined that about 75 of the 122 cryptic sponge species studied (61%) are exclusive members of the sciophilic community, 47 (39 %) occur in both, light-exposed and shaded or dark habitats. Since we estimate the previously known sponge population of Carrie Bow reefs and mangroves at about 200 spe-cies, the cryptic fauna makes up 38 % of total diversity. Copyright © 2014 Magnolia Press.


Thacker R.W.,University of Alabama at Birmingham | Diaz M.C.,Museo Marino de Margarita | de Voogd N.J.,Naturalis | van Soest R.W.M.,University of Amsterdam | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Background: Saba Bank Atoll, Netherlands Antilles, is one of the three largest atolls on Earth and provides habitat for an extensive coral reef community. To improve our knowledge of this vast marine resource, a survey of biodiversity at Saba Bank included a multi-disciplinary team that sampled fishes, mollusks, crustaceans, macroalgae, and sponges. Methodology/Principal Findings: A single member of the dive team conducted surveys of sponge biodiversity during eight dives at six locations, at depths ranging from 15 to 30 m. This preliminary assessment documented the presence of 45 species pooled across multiple locations. Rarefaction analysis estimated that only 48 to 84% of species diversity was sampled by this limited effort, clearly indicating a need for additional surveys. An analysis of historical collections from Saba and Saba Bank revealed an additional 36 species, yielding a total of 81 sponge species recorded from this area. Conclusions/Significance: This observed species composition is similar to that found on widespread Caribbean reefs, indicating that the sponge fauna of Saba Bank is broadly representative of the Caribbean as a whole. A robust population of the giant barrel sponge, Xestospongia muta, appeared healthy with none of the signs of disease or bleaching reported from other Caribbean reefs; however, more recent reports of anchor chain damage to these sponges suggests that human activities can have dramatic impacts on these communities. Opportunities to protect this extremely large habitat should be pursued, as Saba Bank may serve as a significant reservoir of sponge species diversity. © 2010 Thacker et al.


Hill M.S.,University of Richmond | Hill A.L.,University of Richmond | Lopez J.,Nova Southeastern University | Peterson K.J.,Dartmouth College | And 29 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Background: Demosponges are challenging for phylogenetic systematics because of their plastic and relatively simple morphologies and many deep divergences between major clades. To improve understanding of the phylogenetic relationships within Demospongiae, we sequenced and analyzed seven nuclear housekeeping genes involved in a variety of cellular functions from a diverse group of sponges. Methodology/Principal Findings: We generated data from each of the four sponge classes (i.e., Calcarea, Demospongiae, Hexactinellida, and Homoscleromorpha), but focused on family-level relationships within demosponges. With data for 21 newly sampled families, our Maximum Likelihood and Bayesian-based approaches recovered previously phylogenetically defined taxa: Keratosap, Myxospongiaep, Spongillidap, Haploscleromorphap (the marine haplosclerids) and Democlaviap. We found conflicting results concerning the relationships of Keratosap and Myxospongiaep to the remaining demosponges, but our results strongly supported a clade of Haploscleromorphap+Spongillidap+Democlaviap. In contrast to hypotheses based on mitochondrial genome and ribosomal data, nuclear housekeeping gene data suggested that freshwater sponges (Spongillidap) are sister to Haploscleromorphap rather than part of Democlaviap. Within Keratosap, we found equivocal results as to the monophyly of Dictyoceratida. Within Myxospongiaep, Chondrosida and Verongida were monophyletic. A well-supported clade within Democlaviap, Tetractinellidap, composed of all sampled members of Astrophorina and Spirophorina (including the only lithistid in our analysis), was consistently revealed as the sister group to all other members of Democlaviap. Within Tetractinellidap, we did not recover monophyletic Astrophorina or Spirophorina. Our results also reaffirmed the monophyly of order Poecilosclerida (excluding Desmacellidae and Raspailiidae), and polyphyly of Hadromerida and Halichondrida. Conclusions/Significance: These results, using an independent nuclear gene set, confirmed many hypotheses based on ribosomal and/or mitochondrial genes, and they also identified clades with low statistical support or clades that conflicted with traditional morphological classification. Our results will serve as a basis for future exploration of these outstanding questions using more taxon- and gene-rich datasets.


Thacker R.W.,University of Alabama at Birmingham | Hill A.L.,University of Richmond | Hill M.S.,University of Richmond | Redmond N.E.,Smithsonian Institution | And 9 more authors.
Integrative and Comparative Biology | Year: 2013

The highly collaborative research sponsored by the NSF-funded Assembling the Porifera Tree of Life (PorToL) project is providing insights into some of the most difficult questions in metazoan systematics. Our understanding of phylogenetic relationships within the phylum Porifera has changed considerably with increased taxon sampling and data from additional molecular markers. PorToL researchers have falsified earlier phylogenetic hypotheses, discovered novel phylogenetic alliances, found phylogenetic homes for enigmatic taxa, and provided a more precise understanding of the evolution of skeletal features, secondary metabolites, body organization, and symbioses. Some of these exciting new discoveries are shared in the papers that form this issue of Integrative and Comparative Biology. Our analyses of over 300 nearly complete 28S ribosomal subunit gene sequences provide specific case studies that illustrate how our dataset confirms new hypotheses of sponge evolution. We recovered monophyletic clades for all 4 classes of sponges, as well as the 4 major clades of Demospongiae (Keratosa, Myxospongiae, Haploscleromorpha, and Heteroscleromorpha), but our phylogeny differs in several aspects from traditional classifications. In most major clades of sponges, families within orders appear to be paraphyletic. Although additional sampling of genes and taxa are needed to establish whether this pattern results from a lack of phylogenetic resolution or from a paraphyletic classification system, many of our results are congruent with those obtained from 18S ribosomal subunit gene sequences and complete mitochondrial genomes. These data provide further support for a revision of the traditional classification of sponges. © 2013 The Author.


Yranzo A.,Central University of Venezuela | Villamizar E.,Central University of Venezuela | Romero M.,Museo Marino de Margarita | Boadas H.,Museo Marino de Margarita
Revista de Biologia Tropical | Year: 2014

The Isla de Aves Wildlife Refuge is the northernmost portion of the Venezuelan territory generating 135 000km2 of Exclusive Economic Zone. Studies on coral communities are scarce and old (1970s), due to its location 650km northeast of La Guaira Port and because it has military facilities. To upgrade baseline information we estimated size structure, percent live cover, species composition and abundance of corals and octocorals. We evaluated 16 sites around the island using the AGRRA Protocol (band-transects 10 m2) between 1.5 and 21m depth (n=67 transects), and visual surveys conducted in other five sites. We recorded 2 327 colonies belonging to four hydroid species and 36 species of stony corals in 11 families. The values for diversity, dominance and evenness of the coral community ranged between 0.78 and 2.12 (SW), 0.15 and 0.61 and 0.57 y 0.92 respectively. Most coral species had relative abundance values under 3%, except Porites astreoides (25.57%), Pseudodiploria strigosa (18.22%) and Siderastrea siderea (14.44%). They were represented mostly by smaller colonies, between 3 and 30cm in maximum diameter and between 0 and 5cm high. A total of 13 octocoral species belonging to three families were identified. Pseudopterogorgia americana was the most abundant species. The mean percent of live coral (including hydrocorals) was 22.30% (SE=1.73) (15.45% for dead coral, SE=3.28). Dead coral had the highest percentage of dissimilarity between sites (9.21%) (ANOSIM) and 16.57% contribution (SIMPER analysis). Octocoral live cover ranged from 0 to 21.35% with a mean of 6.38% (SE=0.99). Research on benthic communities of Isla de Aves should continue, especially in the deeper areas, to assess ecological conditions. © 2014 Universidad de Costa Rica. All rights reserved.


Sponges constitute one of the most diverse and abundant animal groups in the marine tropical benthos especially in coral reefs, though poorly studied to species level. The aim of this study is to characterize the sponge community along a depth gradient at Isla Larga (Parque Nacional San Esteban, Venezuela) fringe reef. Net and total sedimentation, roughness index, sponge species richness, density and proportion of the bottom covered by sponges, were evaluated at seven depths (1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18m), 17 species were identified grouped in 10 demosponges families. The highest densities and coverage corresponded to 6m of depth (6.03ind/m2; 11%), that coincides with the lowest net sedimentation and highest substrate heterogeneity. Most abundant species were Desmapsamma anchorata, Amphimedon erina and Scopalina rueztleri. Principal component analysis divided this community in three zones according to depth. The shallow zone of the reef (1 and 3m), where wave force and high irradiance exert a constant stress sponges, shows the lowest density and coverage by sponges. In contrast, medium depth (6, 9 y 12m) and deep zone (15 y 18m) with lower light and sedimentation levels seem to enhance sponge growth and survival that are reflected on the higher densities and coverage of sponges.


Ankisetty S.,University of Mississippi | Gochfeld D.J.,University of Mississippi | Diaz M.C.,Museo Marino de Margarita | Khan S.I.,University of Mississippi | Slattery M.,University of Mississippi
Journal of Natural Products | Year: 2010

Chemical investigations of two collections of the deep reef Caribbean sponge Plakortis angulospiculatus resulted in the isolation of a new compound (1) along with the known compound spiculoic acid B (2) belonging to the spiculoic acid class and four other new compounds (3-6) belonging to the zyggomphic acid class. Three new aromatic compounds (7-9) were isolated from the Caribbean sponge Plakortis halichondrioides. The structural determination of the compounds was based on extensive NMR and mass spectroscopic analysis. The isolated compounds 1-7 were tested for their anti-inflammatory activity using in vitro assays for inhibition of inducible nitric oxide synthase and nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) activity, as well as inhibition of intracellular reactive oxygen species generation as a result of oxidative stress. The cytotoxicity of these compounds was also evaluated to determine the selectivity index of their bioactivity with respect to cytotoxicity. Compounds 1 and 4 were more potent than the positive control in inhibiting NFκB activity and had IC50 values of 0.47 and 2.28 μM, respectively. © 2010 The American Chemical Society and American Society of Pharmacognosy.


Sponge faunas from coral reefs and mangrove ecosystems in the Caribbean have mostly been studied from an ecological perspective, with researchers considering the effects of physical and biological factors on their species distribution. To discern evolutionary patterns, this study analyzed the systematic composition, taxonomic diversity, and ecological properties (reproductive strategies, size, shape, endosymbiosis) of mangrove and reef sponge assemblages from seven distant Caribbean localities. Species composition was compared by use of cluster analysis (Sørensen's), and taxonomic diversity by use of the biodiversity index average taxonomic distinctness (AvTD). Mangrove and reef-associated sponge faunas were found to be statistically dissimilar, with the AvTD values suggesting stronger taxonomic bias toward specific groups in mangroves, irrespective of geographic distance. Most Demospongiae orders have 30-50% more species in coral reefs than in mangroves. The richest reef genera (Agelas, Aplysina, Callyspongia, Petrosia, and Xestospongia) rarely colonize contiguous mangrove formations. The distribution and diversity of suprageneric taxa suggest that coral reef sponge assemblages might represent an older fauna. This historical interpretation would place mangrove subtidal habitats as the youngest marine ecosystem, rather than a below-optimum ecosystem. Life history traits support a biological split discussed here from the perspective of distinct evolutionary histories and different environmental conditions. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Winder P.L.,Florida Atlantic University | Baker H.L.,Florida Atlantic University | Linley P.,Florida Atlantic University | Guzman E.A.,Florida Atlantic University | And 4 more authors.
Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry | Year: 2011

Two new marine-derived sesquiterpene benzoquinones which we designate as neopetrosiquinones A (1) and B (2), have been isolated from a deep-water sponge of the family Petrosiidae. The structures were elucidated on the basis of their spectroscopic data. Compounds 1 and 2 inhibit the in vitro proliferation of the DLD-1 human colorectal adenocarcinoma cell line with IC 50 values of 3.7 and 9.8 μM, respectively, and the PANC-1 human pancreatic carcinoma cell line with IC 50 values of 6.1 and 13.8 μM, respectively. Neopetrosiquinone A (1) also inhibited the in vitro proliferation of the AsPC-1 human pancreatic carcinoma cell line with an IC 50 value of 6.1 μM. The compounds are structurally related to alisiaquinone A, cyclozonarone, and xestoquinone. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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