Marine sponges are important components of coral-reef ecosystems because of their role in filtering thousands of litres of seawater a day, retaining the nutrients that fuel the reefs high productivity. Sponges play host to millions of microbial symbionts that are thought to contribute to the health of the sponge through the provision of nutrients and removal of waste products like ammonia. In this study, ACE researchers Pam Engelberts, Steven Robbins, and Nicole Webster present an analysis of 259 symbiont genomes from the sponge Ircinia ramosa, making it one of the first studies to investigate an entire sponge microbiome. By identifying important metabolic pathways, such as carbon fixation or the removal of waste ammonia from the sponge, within the microbial genomes we were able to identify specific taxa that are potentially critical for sponge health.

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