Sustainable Exploitation and Conservation of the Endemic Lake Baikal Sponge (Lubomirskia baicalensis) for Application in Nanobiotechnology

  • Werner E. G. Müller
  • Heinz C. Schröder
  • Sergey I. Belikov
Part of the Progress in Molecular and Subcellular Biology book series (PMSB, volume 47)


The large sub-continent of Siberia is one of the richest mineral and oil resources on Earth. In its center, one region has gained prominence: Lake Baikal. It is one of the oldest, the deepest, and the lake with the greatest volume on Earth and is inhabited by more than 1,500 endemic species. It was Pallas (1771) who discovered in the lake a sponge species, Lubomirskia baicalensis (Porifera: Demospongiae), which dominates Lake Baikal's littoral-zone benthos. This sponge species has a distinguished, pronounced body plan which is composed of modules. The application of molecular biological and cell biological techniques has allowed an insight into the richness of the genomic regulatory systems of L. baicalensis. Predominantly present are those genes which are involved in body plan formation, e.g., signal transduction, stress response, and morphogenesis. The value of this species for the understanding of the evolutionary processes is reflected by recent studies on the monophyly of Lake Baikal endemic sponge species; L. baicalensis is a reference animal for other endemic sponges of this area, such as in the Tuva region (Lake Dzhegataj). In addition, L. baicalensis gained special interest for bio-medicine after the identification of the enzyme, silicatein, which catalyzes biosilica formation for the synthesis of the siliceous skeletal elements, the spicules. The sustainable use of this enzyme became feasible after the achievement of recombinant preparations. The huge impact of the recombinantly prepared biosilica for nano-technology in general cannot yet be quantified, e.g., in the field of new materials (biozirconia and biotitania) or in semiconductor technology.


Marine Sponge Sponge Species Siliceous Sponge Freshwater Sponge Axial Filament 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Werner E. G. Müller
    • 1
  • Heinz C. Schröder
    • 1
  • Sergey I. Belikov
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für Physiologische Chemie, Abteilung Angewandte Molekularbiologie, UniversitätMainzGermany
  2. 2.Limnological Institute of the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Laboratory for Analytical/Bioorganic ChemistryIrkutskRussia

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