In situ determination of Si, N, and P utilization by the demosponge Tethya citrina: a benthic-chamber approach

López-Acosta, María Leynaert, AudeChavaud, LaurentAmice, ErwanBihannic, IsabelleLe Bec, ThierryMaldonado, Manuel . PLoS ONE 14(7): e0218787  DIGITAL CSIC

Sponges consume dissolved silicon (DSi) to build their skeletons. Few studies have attempted to quantify DSi utilization by these organisms and all available determinations come from laboratory measurements. Here we measured DSi consumption rates of the sponge Tethya citrina in its natural habitat, conducting 24h incubations in benthic chambers. Sponges consumed DSi at an average rate of 0.046 ± 0.018 μmol h-1 mL-1 when DSi availability in its habitat was 8.3 ± 1.8 μM. Such DSi consumption rates significantly matched the values predicted by a kinetic model elsewhere developed previously for this species through
laboratory incubations. These results support the use of laboratory incubations as a suitable approach to learn about DSi consumption. During the field incubations, utilization of other dissolved inorganic nutrients by this low-microbial-abundance (LMA) sponge was also measured. The sponges were net sources of ammonium (-0.043 ± 0.031 μmol h-1 mL-1), nitrate (-0.063 ± 0.031 μmol h-1 mL-1), nitrite (-0.007 ± 0.003 μmol h-1 mL-1), and phosphate (-0.004 ± 0.005 μmol h-1 mL-1), in agreement with the general pattern in other LMA species. The detected effluxes were among the lowest reported for sponges, which agreed with the low respiration rates characterizing this species (0.35 ± 0.11 μmol-O2 h-1 mL-1). Despite relatively low flux, the dense population of T. citrina modifies the availability of dissolved inorganic nutrients in the demersal water of its habitat, contributing up to 14% of nitrate and nitrite stocks. Through these effects, the bottom layer contacting the benthic communities where siliceous LMA sponges abound can be partially depleted in DSi, but can benefit from inputs of N and P dissolved inorganic nutrients that are critical to primary producers.