Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. Earth Science News .




WATER WORLD
Researchers describe four new species of "killer sponges" from the deep sea
by Staff Writers
Moss Landing CA (SPX) Apr 17, 2014


Close-up view of Asbestopluma monticola, one of four new species of carnivorous sponges discovered off the West Coast of North America. Image courtesy 2006 MBARI.

Killer sponges sound like creatures from a B-grade horror movie. In fact, they thrive in the lightless depths of the deep sea. Scientists first discovered that some sponges are carnivorous about 20 years ago. Since then only seven carnivorous species have been found in all of the northeastern Pacific.

A new paper authored by MBARI marine biologist Lonny Lundsten and two Canadian researchers describes four new species of carnivorous sponges living on the deep seafloor, from the Pacific Northwest to Baja California.

A far cry from your basic kitchen sponge, these animals look more like bare twigs or small shrubs covered with tiny hairs. But the hairs consist of tightly packed bundles of microscopic hooks that trap small animals such as shrimp-like amphipods. Once an animal becomes trapped, it takes only a few hours for sponge cells to begin engulfing and digesting it. After several days, all that is left is an empty shell.

MBARI researchers videotaped the new sponges on the seafloor, then collected a few samples for taxonomic work and species-reference collections. Back in the lab, when they looked closely at the collected sponges, the scientists discovered, as Lundsten put it, "numerous crustacean prey in various states of decomposition."

Sponges are generally filter feeders, living off of bacteria and single-celled organisms sieved from the surrounding water. They contain specialized cells called choancytes, whose whip-like tails move continuously to create a flow of water which brings food to the sponge.

However, most carnivorous sponges have no choancytes. As Lundsten explained, "To keep beating the whip-like tails of the choancytes takes a lot of energy. And food is hard to come by in the deep sea. So these sponges trap larger, more nutrient-dense organisms, like crustaceans, using beautiful and intricate microscopic hooks."

The spikiness of two these new sponges is reflected in the name of their genus-Asbestopluma. One of these, Asbestopluma monticola was first collected from the top of Davidson Seamount, an extinct underwater volcano off the Central California coast (monticola means "mountain-dweller" in Latin).

A second new species, Asbestopluma rickettsi, was named after marine biologist Ed Ricketts, who was immortalized in John Steinbeck's book, Cannery Row. This sponge was observed at two locations offshore of Southern California. At one of these spots, the sponge was living near colonies of clams and tubeworms that use bacteria to obtain nutrition from methane (natural gas) seeping out of the seafloor.

Although A. rickettsi has spines, the researchers did not see any animals trapped on the specimens they collected. Ongoing research suggests that this sponge, like its "chemosynthetic" neighbors, can use methane-loving bacteria as a food source.

This microscope image shows the carcass of a small crustacean (possibly a deep-sea amphipod) that was caught in the spines of one of the newly discovered carnivorous sponges, Cladorhiza evae. Image: Linda Kuhnz 2013 MBARI

The third and fourth new species of carnivorous sponges were also observed near communities of chemosynthetic animals. However these communities were associated with deep-sea hydrothermal vents, where plumes of hot, mineral-rich water flow out of the seafloor.

One new species, Cladorhiza caillieti, was found on recent lava flows along the Juan de Fuca Ridge, a volcanic ridge offshore of Vancouver Island. The fourth sponge, Cladorhiza evae, was found far to the south, in a newly discovered hydrothermal vent field along the Alarcon Rise, off the tip of Baja California. Specimens of both these sponges had numerous prey trapped among their spines.

Although it's clear that the sponges with trapped animals were consuming their crustacean prey, the authors are looking forward to the day when they will actually get to see this process in action. Until then, horror-movie fans will have plenty to look forward to-as Lundsten and his coauthors noted in their recent paper, "Numerous additional carnivorous sponges from the Northeast Pacific (which have been seen and collected by the authors) await description, and many more, likely, await discovery."

Original journal article: Lundsten, L., Reiswig, H.M., and Austin, W.C. (2014) Four new species of Cladorhizidae (Porifera, Demospongiae, Poecilosclerida) from the Northeast Pacific. Zootaxa 3786 (2): 101-123

.


Related Links
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





WATER WORLD
Study resolves controversy over nitrogen's ocean 'exit strategies'
Princeton NJ (SPX) Apr 15, 2014
A decades-long debate over how nitrogen is removed from the ocean may now be settled by new findings from researchers at Princeton University and their collaborators at the University of Washington. The debate centers on how nitrogen - one of the most important food sources for ocean life and a controller of atmospheric carbon dioxide - becomes converted to a form that can exit the ocean a ... read more


WATER WORLD
Malaysia vows to be transparent with 'black box' data

Solomons flood victims 'terrified' after quakes

Survey finds majority of Malaysians distrust govt on MH370

Mini-sub to dive again after aborting first MH370 search

WATER WORLD
Vanguard Space Technologies Antenna Reflectors on Amazonas Satellite Launch

Middle Eastern country orders more border radar

Headwall Extends Global Reach in Asia/Pac and Israel

A new twist for better steel

WATER WORLD
Mini-sub deploys to scour ocean depths in MH370 hunt

Uncharted depths provide reality check for MH370 hunt

Reef fish arrived in two waves

A small coral-eating worm may mean big trouble for reefs

WATER WORLD
Growth of Antarctic ice sheet triggered warming in the Southern Ocean during Miocene

New technology helps paleontologists see Ice-Age bee in intricate detail

Canada boycotts Arctic Council meeting in Moscow

La Brea Tar Pit fossil research shows climate change drove evolution of Ice Age predators

WATER WORLD
Climate: Farming emissions to rise 30% by 2050

Oyster aquaculture could significantly improve Potomac River estuary water quality

Danone says China recall weighs on first-quarter sales

GM crops under the microscope at international debate

WATER WORLD
Increase in activity at DRC's Nyamulagira volcano

Magnitude 7.5 quake strikes off Solomon Islands: USGS

Cyclone warning lifted on Australia's Barrier Reef coast

Death toll rises to 23 in Solomons floods

WATER WORLD
Obama to meet Djibouti President on May 5

Campaigning conservationist shot in DR Congo

US Marines headed to Chad park to fight poaching

Top Nigerian Islamic body accuses military over Muslim deaths

WATER WORLD
Researchers say Neanderthals were no strangers to good parenting

Evolution explains facial hair trends

New method confirms humans and Neandertals interbred

Indigenous societies' 'first contact' typically brings collapse, but rebounds are possible




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.