Marine Biology

, Volume 148, Issue 3, pp 479–488 | Cite as

Ecological roles of natural products from the marine sponge Geodia corticostylifera

  • E. E. G. Clavico
  • G. Muricy
  • B. A. P. da Gama
  • D. Batista
  • C. R. R. Ventura
  • R. C. PereiraEmail author
Research Article


In the Brazilian coast, high numbers of the small brittle star Ophiactis savignyi usually live associated with the sponge Geodia corticostylifera (Demospongiae, Geodidae), but not with other sympatric sponge species. In order to check whether this association was related only with the physical shelter provided by the sponge body or was chemically mediated, the crude organic extract of G. corticostylifera was added to sponge mimics made of phytagel and spongin skeleton. Control and treated mimics were simultaneously offered to previously sponge-associated O. savignyi in both static seawater and flow-through laboratory experiments. Ophiuroids were allowed to move towards the preferred mimic. The defensive properties of the sponge extract against fish predation and fouling were also evaluated. Chemotaxis assays showed that symbiotic ophiuroids were able to chemically recognize its host sponge, moving significantly more towards mimics containing G. corticostylifera extract. Chemical deterrence assays showed that the natural concentration of the extract of this sponge was also able to inhibit generalist fish predation on field experiments and the attachment of the common mussel Perna perna in laboratory assays. These results indicate that the crude extract of G. corticostylifera plays multiple functions in the marine environment, presumably being responsible for a closer association of this sponge with O. savignyi, providing protection for this ophiuroid and inhibition of epibionts on itself.


Sponge Chemical Defense Marine Sponge Perna Sponge Species 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank the staff of the Instituto de Estudos do Mar Alte. Paulo Moreira (IEAPM—Brazilian Navy), in special CEL Ferreira for support during field work. R.C. Pereira, C.R.R.Ventura and G.Muricy thank CNPq for their Research Productivity fellowships, and B.A.P.da Gama thanks CAPES for his ProDoc fellowship. G.Muricy also thanks FAPERJ for a grant “Cientistas do Nosso Estado.” Anonymous referees greatly improved the quality of this paper. The experiments described here comply with the Brazilian environmental protection laws.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. E. G. Clavico
    • 1
  • G. Muricy
    • 2
  • B. A. P. da Gama
    • 1
  • D. Batista
    • 1
  • C. R. R. Ventura
    • 2
  • R. C. Pereira
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Pós-Graduação em Biologia MarinhaUniversidade Federal FluminenseNiterói, Rio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Museu Nacional, Departamento de InvertebradosUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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