Identification and first insights into the structure and biosynthesis of chitin from the freshwater sponge Spongilla lacustris

Hermann Ehrlich*, Oksana V. Kaluzhnaya, Eike Brunner, Mikhail V. Tsurkan, Alexander Ereskovsky, Micha Ilan, Konstantin R. Tabachnick, Vasilii V. Bazhenov, Silvia Paasch, Martin Kammer, René Born, Allison Stelling, Roberta Galli, Sergei Belikov, Olga V. Petrova, Victor V. Sivkov, Denis Vyalikh, Sebastian Hunoldt, Gert Wörheide

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


This work demonstrates that chitin is an important structural component within the skeletal fibers of the freshwater sponge Spongilla lacustris. Using a variety of analytical techniques (13C solid state NMR, FT-IR, Raman, NEXAFS, ESI-MS, Morgan-Elson assay and Calcofluor White Staining); we show that this sponge chitin is much closer to α-chitin, known to be present in other animals, than to β-chitin. Genetic analysis confirmed the presence of chitin synthases, which are described for the first time in a sponge. The presence of chitin in both marine (demosponges and hexactinellids) and freshwater sponges indicates that this important structural biopolymer was already present in their common ancestor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-483
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Structural Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


FundersFunder number
Erasmus Mundus DAAD
German-Russian Interdisciplinary Science Center
Deutsche ForschungsgemeinschaftBR 1278/ 17-1, EH 394/1-1
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Russian Foundation for Basic Research11-04-00323-а
Russian Foundation for Basic Research
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung03EK3029A
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung


    • Bioanalytics
    • Chitin
    • Chitin synthase
    • Skeleton
    • Sponges


    Dive into the research topics of 'Identification and first insights into the structure and biosynthesis of chitin from the freshwater sponge Spongilla lacustris'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this