Tropical freshwater sponges develop from gemmules faster than their temperate-region counterparts

  • Ludimila CalheiraEmail author
  • Emilio Lanna
  • Ulisses Pinheiro
Original Paper


Gemmules are asexual reproductive structures, with internal cells that migrate through an opening in the process of germination, and start to differentiate to form a functional sponge. They have been used as models to understand the physiology and biology of freshwater sponges, but these studies were carried out only in a restricted group of sponges from the temperate region. Therefore, detailed studies describing the developmental stages of freshwater sponges, especially belonging to other lineages and localities, are still necessary to understand how the sponges are formed from gemmules. Here, we describe the development during gemmule germination of two neotropical freshwater sponges, Radiospongilla inesi and Heteromeyenia cristalina. We classified the development of both species in five stages based on phenotypic characteristics. Differences in the developmental stages between the studied species were observed, suggesting that development is species specific. Moreover, when comparing the development of the tropical freshwater sponges with their temperate counterparts, we found differences in the timing of the stages, especially in the formation of the juvenile sponge. Therefore, the tropical species have a similar, but faster development.


Developmental stages Resistant bodies Neotropical region Porifera Spongillidae 



The authors are grateful to Dra. Ana C.S. Almeida (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Brazil), M. Sc. Elielton Nascimento (Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Brazil) and M.Sc. Loyana Docio (Universidade do Estado da Bahia, Brazil) for logistical support.


This study was funded in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—Brasil (CAPES)—Finance Code 001. Beside that, the Fundação de Amparo à Ciência e Tecnologia do Estado de Pernambuco (FACEPE), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado da Bahia (FAPESB), and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for financial support in our labs.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest and they agree to the submission of the manuscript and the corresponding author has been authorized by all co-authors.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors. Necessary permits for the field studies, including sampling and laboratory procedures, were obtained (Permit Number 18100-1 SISBIO/Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservaçao da Biodiversidade). Reported localities do not include protected areas. And, all data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biologia Animal, Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Federal de PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de Biologia, Campus de OndinaUniversidade Federal da BahiaSalvadorBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Federal de PernambucoRecifeBrazil

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