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  1. Abstract

    Coral reef biodiversity is maintained by a complex network of nutrient recycling among organisms. Sponges assimilate nutrients produced by other organisms like coral and algae, releasing them as particulate and dissolved matter, but to date, only a single trophic link between sponge-derived dissolved matter and a macroalgae has been identified. We sought to determine if sponge-coral nutrient exchange is reciprocal using a stable isotope ‘pulse-chase’ experiment to trace the uptake of13C and15N sponge-derived matter by the coral holobiont for three coral species (Acropora cervicornis, Orbicella faveolata, andEunicea flexuosa). Coral holobionts incorporated 2.3–26.8x more15N than13C from sponge-derived matter andA. cervicornisincorporated more of both C and N than the other corals. Differential isotopic incorporation among coral species aligns with their ecophysiological characteristics (e.g., morphology, Symbiodiniaceae density). Our results elucidate a recycling pathway on coral reefs that has implications for improving coral aquaculture and management approaches.

     
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  2. In this Perspective, we summarize the status of technological development for large-area and low-noise substrate-transferred GaAs/AlGaAs (AlGaAs) crystalline coatings for interferometric gravitational-wave (GW) detectors. These topics were originally presented as part of an AlGaAs Workshop held at American University, Washington, DC, from 15 August to 17 August 2022, bringing together members of the GW community from the laser interferometer gravitational-wave observatory (LIGO), Virgo, and KAGRA collaborations, along with scientists from the precision optical metrology community, and industry partners with extensive expertise in the manufacturing of said coatings. AlGaAs-based crystalline coatings present the possibility of GW observatories having significantly greater range than current systems employing ion-beam sputtered mirrors. Given the low thermal noise of AlGaAs at room temperature, GW detectors could realize these significant sensitivity gains while potentially avoiding cryogenic operation. However, the development of large-area AlGaAs coatings presents unique challenges. Herein, we describe recent research and development efforts relevant to crystalline coatings, covering characterization efforts on novel noise processes as well as optical metrology on large-area (∼10 cm diameter) mirrors. We further explore options to expand the maximum coating diameter to 20 cm and beyond, forging a path to produce low-noise mirrors amenable to future GW detector upgrades, while noting the unique requirements and prospective experimental testbeds for these semiconductor-based coatings. 
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  3. ABSTRACT

    Aplysina cauliformis, the Caribbean purple rope sponge, is commonly affected by Aplysina Red Band Syndrome (ARBS). This transmissible disease manifests as circular lesions with red margins and results in bare spongin fibers. Leptolyngbya spp. appear to be responsible for the characteristic red coloration but transmission studies with a sponge-derived isolate failed to establish disease, leaving the etiology of ARBS unknown. To investigate the cause of ARBS, contact transmission experiments were performed between healthy and diseased sponges separated by filters with varying pore sizes. Transmission occurred when sponges were separated by filters with pore sizes ≥ 2.5 μm, suggesting a prokaryotic pathogen(s) but not completely eliminating eukaryotic pathogen(s). Using 16S rRNA gene sequencing methods, 38 prokaryotic taxa were significantly enriched in diseased sponges, including Leptolyngbya, whereas seven taxa were only found in some, but not all, of the ARBS-affected sponges. These results do not implicate a single taxon, but rather a suite of taxa that changed in relative abundance with disease, suggesting a polymicrobial etiology as well as dysbiosis. As a better understanding of dysbiosis is gained, changes in the composition of associated prokaryotic communities may have increasing importance for evaluating and maintaining the health of individuals and imperiled coral reef ecosystems.

     
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  4. null (Ed.)
    Marine sponges have been successful in their expansion across diverse ecological niches around the globe. Pioneering work attributed this success to both a well-developed aquiferous system that allowed for efficient filter feeding on suspended organic matter and the presence of microbial symbionts that can supplement host heterotrophic feeding with photosynthate or dissolved organic carbon. We now know that sponge-microbe interactions are host-specific, highly nuanced, and provide diverse nutritional benefits to the host sponge. Despite these advances in the field, many current hypotheses pertaining to the evolution of these interactions are overly generalized; these over-simplifications limit our understanding of the evolutionary processes shaping these symbioses and how they contribute to the ecological success of sponges on modern coral reefs. To highlight the current state of knowledge in this field, we start with seminal papers and review how contemporary work using higher resolution techniques has both complemented and challenged their early hypotheses. We outline different schools of thought by discussing evidence of symbiont contribution to both host ecological divergence and convergence, nutritional specificity and plasticity, and allopatric and sympatric speciation. Based on this synthesis, we conclude that the evolutionary pressures shaping these interactions are complex, with influences from both external (nutrient limitation and competition) and internal (fitness trade-offs and evolutionary constraints) factors. We outline recent controversies pertaining to these evolutionary pressures and place our current understanding of these interactions into a broader ecological and evolutionary framework. Finally, we propose areas for future research that we believe will lead to important new developments in the field. 
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  5. Sponges are the richest source of bioactive organic small molecules, referred to as natural products, in the marine environment. It is well established that laboratory culturing-resistant symbiotic bacteria residing within the eukaryotic sponge host matrix often synthesize the natural products that are detected in the sponge tissue extracts. However, the contributions of the culturing-amenable commensal bacteria that are also associated with the sponge host to the overall metabolome of the sponge holobiont are not well defined. In this study, we cultured a large library of bacteria from three marine sponges commonly found in the Florida Keys. Metabolomes of isolated bacterial strains and that of the sponge holobiont were compared using mass spectrometry to reveal minimal metabolomic overlap between commensal bacteria and the sponge hosts. We also find that the phylogenetic overlap between cultured commensal bacteria and that of the sponge microbiome is minimal. Despite these observations, the commensal bacteria were found to be a rich resource for novel natural product discovery. Mass spectrometry-based metabolomics provided structural insights into these cryptic natural products. Pedagogic innovation in the form of laboratory curricula development is described which provided undergraduate students with hands-on instruction in microbiology and natural product discovery using metabolomic data mining strategies. 
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  6. Abstract

    Sponges occur across diverse marine biomes and host internal microbial communities that can provide critical ecological functions. While strong patterns of host specificity have been observed consistently in sponge microbiomes, the precise ecological relationships between hosts and their symbiotic microbial communities remain to be fully delineated. In the current study, we investigate the relative roles of host population genetics and biogeography in structuring the microbial communities hosted by the excavating spongeCliona delitrix. A total of 53 samples, previously used to demarcate the population genetic structure ofC. delitrix,were selected from two locations in the Caribbean Sea and from eight locations across the reefs of Florida and the Bahamas. Microbial community diversity and composition were measured using Illumina‐based high‐throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA V4 region and related to host population structure and geographic distribution. Most operational taxonomic units (OTUs) specific toCliona delitrixmicrobiomes were rare, while other OTUs were shared with congeneric hosts. Across a large regional scale (>1,000 km), geographic distance was associated with considerable variability of the sponge microbiome, suggesting a distance–decay relationship, but little impact over smaller spatial scales (<300 km) was observed. Host population structure had a moderate effect on the structure of these microbial communities, regardless of geographic distance. These results support the interplay between geographic, environmental, and host factors as forces determining the community structure of microbiomes associated withC. delitrix. Moreover, these data suggest that the mechanisms of host regulation can be observed at the population genetic scale, prior to the onset of speciation.

     
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