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García-Hernández JE, Hagiwara KA, Tabanera N, de Voogd NJ, Kelman D and Wright AD (In preparation) Biological activity investigations of sponges (Porifera) collected from Hawaii and Maui. B.S. Thesis, Department of Marine Science, University of Hawaii at Hilo. In: Lang, MA & Sayer MDJ (ed.), Proceedings of the 2013 AAUS/AEDP Curacao Joint International Scientific Diving Symposium, Dauphin Island, AL: American Academy of Underwater Sciences, pp 61-64

Senior Thesis Research Project:

Marine S​ponges from Hawaii: Big Island


We recognized the need to explore the diversity of marine sponges from the Hilo coastline due to the fact that it had been well over 60 years since Dr. de Laubenfels (1951) performed the first taxonomic sponge surveys on the island of Hawaii. 

This research project consisted of surveys, collections, descriptions, histology, and preliminary taxonomic analysis. Sponges were collected using proper scientific diving procedures under AAUS auspices. One of the main goals of this research was to explore the biological activity (antibiotic and antioxidant properties) of shallow and mesophotic reef sponges by testing their crude organic extracts. These extracts contain secondary metabolites that are produced by the sponge itself and(or) by the different microbes associated with the sponge. Marine sponges (holobiont) have the ability to form highly complex symbiotic interactions with other microorganisms; some of which (i.e., photosynthetic cyanobacteria) may have occurred early in the sponge’s evolution history (Taylor et al. 2007). The ‘sponge holobiont’ refers to the complex community that is comprised of the sponge host, the eukaryotic, bacteria, archaea, fungi, algae, and viruses that associate with the sponge (Rohwer et al. 2002; Webster & Taylor 2012). These symbiotic interactions are what make marine sponges one of the most enigmatic organisms in our planet, thus the reason why scientists all over the world, including myself are interested in studying them.