Gene flow and differentiation in a native calcareous sponge (Porifera) with unknown dispersal phase
The cyanobacterial symbionts of the marine sponge Chondrilla australiensis (Demospongiae) were examined using fluorescent microscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy. Unicellular cyanobacteria with ultrastructure resembling Aphanocapsa feldmannii occur in the cortex and bacterial symbionts are located throughout the mesohyl. In C. australiensis, the developing eggs are distributed throughout the mesohyl and are surrounded by nurse cells attached to them by thin filaments. The nurse cells form cytoplasmic bridges with the eggs, apparently releasing their contents into the egg cytoplasm. The presence of cyanobacterial and bacterial symbionts inside developing eggs and nurse cells in 25% of female Chondrilla australiensiswas established using Transmission Electron Microscopy, suggesting that these symbionts are sometimes passed on to the next generation of sponges via the eggs.