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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / Cuticular linings and remodelisation processes in Crambe Crambe (Demospongiae: Poecilosclerida)

X.a Turon, M.J.b Uriz, and P.c Willenz (1999)

Cuticular linings and remodelisation processes in Crambe Crambe (Demospongiae: Poecilosclerida)

Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 44(1-2):617-625.

The common Mediterranean sublittoral sponge Crambe crambe goes through a resting, non-feeding period with cellular restructuring which may have biological and ecological significance. This red encrusting sponge reproduces in summer and larvae released during July-August. After reproduction, from the end of August until the end of October, some specimens appeared covered with a glassy cuticle, obliterating the ostia and oscula. No water pumping and, hence, no feeding occurs during this stage. At the end of October and during November some specimens displayed a strongly hispid surface, with spicules retaining entangled debris. This hispid form is interpreted as an intermediate stage between the resting phase and the active period. SEM examination of the surface during the non-feeding period confirmed the absence of inhalant orifices and the presence of an acellular cuticle markedly different from the glycocalyx layer associated with the pinacoderm of active specimens. In some individuals, micro-organisms were found adhering to the outer side of the cuticle which were absent from the surface of active specimens. In TEM, the cuticle appeared as a complex 2.5-3μm thick structure made up of three layers: a proximal dense layer (0.06-0.12μm), an intermediate amorphous layer (0.15-0.3μm), and an outer granular layer also of variable thickness (more than 2μm) which progressively disintegrated. Collagen debris appeared between the proximal and intermediate layers. The zone beneath this triple-layered cuticle was either completely devoid of cells or showed scarce degenerating cellular components (mainly from pinacocytes and spherulous cells), and sparse collagen fibrils. The choanosome appeared rather disorganised, with most choanocyte chambers disintegrated, with abundant phagocytosing archeocytes, sclerocytes, spherulous cells, degenerated cells and cell debris. Later in the season the cuticle appeared broken in many places. It was cast off and a new pinacoderm with ostia developed below; filtering activity of the sponges resumed. Spicules, previously protected by the cuticle, were uncovered, giving rise to a hispid phase. Subsequently the emergent spicules were cast off and smoothness of the sponge surface was restored. These changes in sponge cell structure and activity may be explained as reorganisation processes after reproduction, but other causes, such as adverse water temperature, may have similar effects.

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