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Siliceous spicules and skeletons frameworks in sponges: origin, diversity, ultrastructural patterns, and biological functions

AuthorsUriz, María Jesús ; Turon, Xavier ; Becerro, Mikel ; Agell, Gemma
Issue Date2003
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
CitationMicroscope Research and Technique 62: 279-299 (2003)
AbstractSilica deposition is a fundamental process in sponges. Most sponges in the ClassesDemospongiae and Hexactinellida secrete siliceous elements, which can subsequently fuse, inter-lock with each other, or form three-dimensional structures connected by spongin. The resultingskeletal frameworks allow sponges to grow upwards and facilitate water exchange with minimalmetabolic cost. Several studies on sponge skeletogenesis have been published. We are beginning tounderstand the mechanisms of spicule secretion and the role of spicules and skeletal frameworksin the biology, ecology, and evolution of sponges. Molecular techniques and ecological experimentshave demonstrated the genetic control of the process and the contribution of environmental factorsto the expression of a sponge spicule, respectively. However, other classic topics such as the role ofmembranes in silicon transport or whether spicules are formed in situ or secreted anywhere in thesponge mesohyl and then transported to the skeletal framework require further investigation. Wereview the process of silica deposition in sponges at the molecular and cellular levels, as well as thebiological and ecological functions of spicules and skeletons. The genetic control of spicule shapesmakes them useful in the reconstruction of sponge phylogeny, although recent experiments havedemonstrated the influence of environmental factors in modulating spicule size, shape, and the pres-ence or absence of one or more spicule types. The implications of such variations in sponge taxonomymay be important. Besides supporting sponge cells, spicules can help larvae stay buoyant while in theplankton or reach the bottom at settlement, enhance reproduction success, or catch prey. Conversely,the role of spicules and skeletons in deterring predation has not been demonstrated. Knowledge ofseveral aspects is still based on a single or a few species and extrapolations should be made only withcaution. With the advent of new molecular techniques, new lines of research are presently open andactive in this field.
DescriptionEste artículo contiene 21 páginas, 30 figuras.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1002/jemt.10395
Appears in Collections:(CEAB) Artículos
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