Among the Brazilian ecosystems, some call particular attention due to unique combination of environmental conditions, resulting in evolution of species capable of colonizing strictly these habitats. Among these environments, there is a special emphasis on the Archipelago of San Peter and San Paul (ASPSP) located in the region equatorial North Atlantic Ocean which is located around 1.010 km of Natal - RN, halfway between the northeast Brazilian and the African continent. The archipelago consists of five major islands and numerous rocks, being one of the most inhospitable places in the country. The geological formation of the islands is unique worldwide and juts into the sea with steep slopes, being devoid of beaches, vegetation and water drinking. Despite the adverse conditions present in the emerged part of life, this set of islands are surrounded by rich biodiversity in the submerged part. In this scenario, we highlight the marine sponges, which are probably the most primitive extant metazoans, and are an excellent organism for the study of interactions between prokaryotes and higher organisms. In its environment, approximately 40-60% of the biomass sponge comprises micro-organisms, which allows the use sponges as a source of aquatics microbial communities. These microbiomes feature a variety of micro-organisms, from the organisms used in the diet of sponge bacterial symbionts and residents, constituting a natural reservoir of genetic diversity and secondary metabolites with biotechnological interest. The archipelago has a special appeal for exploration of interactions between sponges and microorganisms, as have some species of sponges exclusive occurrence still little affected by human action. This fact, coupled with the complete lack of such associations reinforces the interest of encouraging research in the region. Thus, this project aims to study the genetic diversity of bacteria associated with sponges. The exploration will focus on sponges with ecological and biotechnological interest restricted to the archipelago and will reveal the molecular diversity and functional characteristics of the microbiome of sponges.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: