Marine sponges are an extremely rich and important source of natural products. Mariculture is one solution to the so-called "supply problem" that often hampers further studies and development of novel compounds from sponges. We report the extended culture (767 days) at sea in depths of 10 and 20 m of three sponge species: Negombata magnifica, Amphimedon chloros and Theonella swinhoei that produce latrunculin-B, halitoxin and swinholide-A, respectively. Since sponge-associated microorganisms may be the true producers of many of the natural products found in sponges and also be linked to the health of the sponges, we examined the stability of the bacterial communities in cultured versus wild sponges. Growth rate of the sponges (ranging from 308 to 61 and -19 (%)(year-1) in N. magnifica, A. chloros and T. swinhoei, respectively) differed significantly between species but not between the two depths at which the species were cultivated. Survivorship varied from 96% to 57%. During culture all species maintained the content of the desired natural product. Denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis of the sponge-associated bacterial consortia revealed that differences existed between cultured and wild sponges in T. swinhoei and A. chloros but the communities remained quite stable in N. magnifica. The cultivation technique for production of natural products was found to be most appropriate for N. magnifica, while for T. swinhoei and A. chloros it was less successful, because of poorer growth and survival rates and shifts in their bacterial consortia.
- Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis (DGGE)
- Marine natural products
- Red sea