The humble Sponge is an often overlooked and underappreciated marine organism. This
ancient group has been around for 600 million years. Porifera, the Latin name of the
phylum, means “pore bearer”, referring to the visibly apparent openings on the surface.
Sponges come in a variety of colors and shapes. The bright colors, yellow, orange, red,
even blue are mainly due to symbiotic microorganisms. Some species grow as thick
layers on hard surfaces, some form interesting shapes, resembling a tennis ball, an
elephant ear, or a small vase. These are sessile organisms, attached permanently to a
rock or other substrate. Sponges can be easily confused with tunicates, but the spongy
texture, the dull, felt like surface and some conspicuous pores help in distinguishing
between the two phyla.
Sponges represent the link between unicellular and multicellular organisms. In a major
evolutionary step single flagellated cells started to communicate and collaborate with
each other, this allowed an organism to grow beyond the limits of a single cell. These
simple multicellular organisms, also called parazoa, are organized at the cell level.
Lacking tissues and organs they are merely an aggregation of specialized cells. Sponges
are the only multicellular animals organized in this manner. Despite their large size they
function in a similar manner to microscopic unicellular organisms, all activity, like
digestion and respiration, are performed at the cell level. Sponges have no sensory
organs, nerves, or even muscles. Simplicity, however, has its advantages: sponge cells
are very plastic, capable of changing roles and reorganizing themselves. If cells are
separated by putting a sponge through a sieve, the cells start to aggregate and form
new sponges. If the sponge cells come from different species they are capable of self
recognition, so they reaggregate into separate species. Although many invertebrates are
capable of regenerating lost body parts, cell reorganization is unique to sponges.
As active hunting is out of the question for the sessile sponge, to feed themselves they
pump enormous amounts of water (pumping 200 gallon of water produces only an ounce
of food) through their bodies and filter out small organic particles, bacteria, microscopic
algae. They are even capable of absorbing dissolved organic matter. The water enters via
many tiny pores, called ostia, then circulates through the canals and chambers
crisscrossing the entire sponge body. The simple process ensures that food is delivered
to each individual cell. The pumping effect is achieved with the help of the most typical
sponge cells, the choanocytes, lining the canals. Each has a single, beating flagella, that
creates the water current and a collar that traps food particles. These choanocyte cells
are of great importance to evolutionary biologists as they resemble the
choanoflagellates, the closest living unicellular relative to animals, a modern form of the
last unicellular ancestor of animals. Finally, the water is pumped out via the osculum, a
large opening at the top. This aquiferous system is important not only in food gathering
but also in gas exchange, expelling waste products and sexual reproduction. The food is
passed to the ameboid cells, where it gets digested and the resulting nutirents are
transported to all other cells. These archaeocytes are totipotent cells that can take on
various tasks, as needed, for example, transform into eggs or sperm, or secret spicules.
If distressed, the sponge can shrink the size of its pores (ostia), even stopping the water
flow with the help of the contractile cells lining the openings.
The structural support of sponges is provided by tiny siliceous or calcareous elements,
called spicules, or by a protein fiber, called spongin. The spicules are the basis of sponge

These compounds are of pharmacological importance because they possess antibacterial. Blood is . antiviral. Some smaller sponges are annual. but there are some clues to separate them. tunicates are filter feeders. tunicates squirt water out through both siphons. The ascidians. so regularly placed small pores are characteristics of the tunicates. The water current is maintained by hundreds of beating cilia. Water enters the body at the incurrent. a shell or spines. TUNICATES This group of animals is a subphylum in the Phylum Chordata and as such they are our closest invertebrate relatives. Similar to sponges. hence the common name. but it can be regulated also by muscles. nudibranchs. the first approved marine drug is based on a natural compound produced by the humble sponge. growing new individuals mainly by budding.taxonomy. they produce a wide variety of chemicals to deter predators and competitors. Sponges use various methods for reproduction. sea squirt. Although they are similar in appearance. Food then passes through the U shaped gut for digestion and the water is expelled through the excurrent. Compound tunicates are easily confused with sponges. the tunicate body structure is much more complex than the simple cell aggregation of sponges. dorsal hollow nerve cord. Most sponges we encounter belong to the class Demospongiae with silicone dioxide spicules. snails. the adults we encounter couldn’t differ more from us. oral siphon. In most cases only the sperms are released into the water column. but the larger ones may live up to 100 years. how sponges are arranged into smaller hierarchical groups. Many other groups of invertebrates rely on creating water current for filter feeding. but using a perforated pharynx to catch particles is a highly evolved mechanism and is unique to tunicates. In fact. The incurrent openings are usually not visible in sponges. Sponges can also proliferate asexually. the class Ascidiacea. post anal tail) only in their larval stage. Solitary tunicates are relatively large single individuals. The compound tunicates are composed of many small individual zooids living in a common gelatinous matrix. producing both eggs and sperms. attached to hard substrates. even some fish become immune to the toxins. The body is covered with a gelatinous tunic made of cellulose. while compound tunicates usually have a shiny surface. enter the body of another sponge where internal fertilization takes place. passes through the mucus covered pharyngeal basket where small particles are filtered out. atrial siphon. pharyngeal gill slits. however. Despite this chemical warfare sponges do have predators. they possess the chorda te characteristics (notochord. Tunicates are chordates without a backbone. As sponges lack physical defense mechanism. As with many invertebrates life begins with a larval form. in contrast to the pelagic tunicates or salps which are not covered here. i. Ascidian tunicates come in three main forms. and antitumor properties. Most are hermaphrodites. anti-inflammatory. or fight infection and fouling.e. Sponges have a felty appearance. If disturbed. Some of the small white sponges belong to the class Calcarea. a material almost exclusive to plants. are benthic sessile tunicates. which after a brief planktonic period settles down and develops into adult. The social tunicates live as a group of individuals connected to each other.

then after a short pause it starts flowing the opposite direction. Most solitary tunicates broadcast sperms and eggs. Pagurus impressus.  Most are marine although some live in fresh water. Few sponges are carnivorous. 66(suppl. Cells then migrate around the helpless prey and digestion takes place extracellularly. spending their lives anchored to a solid surface underwater. In most cases little is known about how they actually capture prey. For approximately 100 beats the blood is flowing in one direction. the nervous system and sensory organs are not highly developed. To see a small rounded colorful sponge moving about on the ocean floor for the first time is an unusual experience. the external fertilization produces a tadpole larva which displays more chordate features than the adults. Most known carnivorous sponges have completely lost the water flow system and choanocytes. Yondelis. 1995. BouryEsnault. Invertebrate Biology.): 109-115. and N. Sandford. Gas exchange occurs across the body wall. but adequate for the sessile life style. There is no head. THE CARNIVOROUS EXCEPTION Sponges of the family Cladorhizidae are especially unusual in that they typically feed by capturing and digesting whole animals. 14(1):73-78. J. In contrast. 1996. . similar to sponges. possibly to deter predators. F. They can capture small crustaceans using spicule – covered filaments. Vacelet. Bulletin de l'Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique Biologie. was developed from a tunicate to treat soft tissue sarcoma. Sponges are  sessile. tunicates secrete various chemicals that are of pharmacological interest. That's right. moving the sponge about from place to place. Due to this chemical defense system tunicates do not have many predators. especially vanadium and iron. The tunicate blood has a very high content of heavy metals. Pt-lobos. Most tunicates are hermaphroditic with separate gonads. Shell/sponge switching by hermit crabs. the compound tunicates brood their internally fertilized eggs. But some hermit crabs also live in "mobile" or "portable" sponges. a recently approved drug.pumped around the body by a short tubular heart. these sponges are actually carnivorous! They capture small crustaceans with their spicules which act like Velcro when they come in contact with the crustacean exoskeletons. In social and compound tunicates asexual budding is responsible for the fast growth of the colony. and it often takes several minutes before one realizes that there is a hermit crab inside. A new species of carnivorous sponge (Demospongiae.com Hermit crabs are a successful group of decapod crustaceans that typically live in empty snail shells. Cladorhizidae) from a Mediterranean cave. To deter predators.

000 genes) contains many genes homologous to those found in much more complex animals.  about 10. . diploblastic.  probably the most ancient of today's invertebrates. free-swimming larvae. The adults have neither notochord nor a dorsal tubular nervous system.000 times their own volume in the course of a day!)  dispersed by small. these animals disperse themselves with free-swimming larvae that have  a dorsal tubular nervous system  notochord and  gill slits (see the diagram above). that is. They are  marine  sessile animals that  feed by filtering food particles from seawater taken in through one opening. the sea peach (photo courtesy of Ralph Buchsbaum).  The body wall is perforated with pores (hence the name Porifera) through which water containing food particles is filtered. Urochordata This group (also called Tunicata) includes animals known as ascidians (and commonly called sea squirts).000 species known. It is hard to see what makes these animals chordates. However. The water is drawn in through the pores by collar cells like those found in choanoflagellates. sequencing shows that their genome (> 18. and squirted out the other. or siphon. (Some sponges can process a volume of water more than 100. One of the most common species (Ciona intestinalis) has had its genome sequenced. their fossils appear in the geological record as far back as 635 million years. the body wall is made of two layers of cells with a jellylike mesoglea between them.  Despite their simple body plan. The one on the right is Halocynthia.

 It has a very small genome: ~1. with 80% of Ciona's genes having homologs in us.) Link to table giving comparative genome sizes.600 cells) including only o 36 muscle cells o 40 notochord cells o 100 neurons  These cells (as well as the others) develop along rigid pathways which can be easily observed because the larva is  transparent.000 genes. In fact.  Its larva is small (with ~2. elegans. (Some 20% of these are organized in operons. but now we are talking about an animal far closer to the evolutionary line that produced us. . tunicates are probably our closest invertebrate relatives. All these features are shared with C.6 x 108 base pairs encoding ~16.

.ucmp. although some are smooth.http://www. Sometimes appears branch-like or knobbly when covering dead corals.berkeley. taking on the shape of whatever it is encrusting.edu/porifera/pororg. Encrusting coralline algae Tends to be smooth.html Colonial ascidians Colonial ascidians are smooth and slimy. Sponges Sponges tend to be rough.

Sponges are simple animals belonging to Phylum Porifera. i) endostyle . Sponges don't 'collapse' when exposed out of water and most retain their rigid shape. They inflate again once they are submerged. Coralline algae are seaweeds. Class Ascidiacea. with tiny holes over the size. Coralline algae doesn't 'collapse' when exposed out of water. g) stomach. b) atrial siphon. c) tunic d) mantle. Colonial ascidians tend to have Sponges usually a few larger many tiny holes of the same holes. Colonial ascidians are complex animals belonging to Phylum Chordata. f) gullet. e) pharynx.Colonial ascidians tend to 'collapse' when exposed out of water. Coralline algae doesn't have holes. h) anus. although some may have a rest of the body. TUNICATES Body structure[edit] Diagrammatic section through an ascidian: a) buccal siphon. few large holes.

Robert D. the buccal siphon at the top through which water flows into the interior and the atrial siphon on the ventral side through which it is expelled. links it to a loop of gut which terminates near the atrial siphon. coating rocks and stones near the mid-water mark. and includes tunicin. Invertebrate Zoology. and also hold up the other organs. arrows indicate water movement and (x) the lateral. People often carelessly step on them. Two openings are found in the body wall. S. The walls of the pharynx are perforated by several bands of slits. a variety of cellulose. . 940–956. at the lower end of the pharynx. Fox. Melted chocolate sponges Chondrilla australiensis* Family Chondrillidae updated Feb 13 Where seen? This rubbery sheet is commonly seen on our Northern shores. This is criss-crossed by various rope-like mesenteries which extend from the mantle and provide support for the pharynx. Barnes. and this secretes a mucous net which collects food particles and is wound up on the dorsal side of the pharynx. Edward E. reticulated parts of the "house" By far the largest class of tunicates is the Ascidiacea. blood vessels. This varies in thickness between species but may be tough. the atrium. 7th edition. Cengage Learning. known as stigmata.. and nerves.[4 Ruppert.Oikopleura cophocerca in its "house". The body of an ascidiacean is surrounded by a test or tunic. preventing it from collapsing. The gullet. from which the subphylum derives its name. Richard. through which water escapes into the surrounding water-filled cavity. muscle fibres. It is a muscular tube linking the buccal opening with the rest of the gut. not realising that they are animals. The tunic is composed of proteins and complex carbohydrates.. ISBN 81-315-0104-3. A large pharynx occupies most of the interior of the body. Inside the tunic is the body wall or mantle composed of connective tissue. or transparent and gelatinous. pp. resembling cartilage. (2004). thin and delicate. It has a ciliated groove known as an endostyle on its ventral surface. The tunic is unique among invertebrate exoskeletons in that it can grow as the animal enlarges and does not need to be periodically shed.

In fact. scientists did not even consider animals until about 100 years ago! Sponges belong to Phylum Porifera which includes about 8. stones and boulders. Tiny holes (0. from boulders. These cells do not form tissues or organs. tiny branching canals lead to chambers. digestive system or circulatory system. in the way that a hard coral is a colony of individual animals. greenish grey and black. In this way. Look for them. together with any wastes. As the canals narrow. They coat coral rubble.Features: Thin layer encrusting small areas 15cm sometimes large areas 1m or more. branching canals. cnidarians and even seaweed. The sponge generates a flow of water through these canals and traps microscopic particles from this water flow Here's how it works: Inside the sponge. Here's more on how to tell apart blob-like lifeforms. It really looks like melted chocolate when it's exposed at low tide! Shades of grey. Sponges are animals and not plants! Don't break them or step on them. Oxygen is also absorbed. The holes can barely be seen when submerged. albeit very simple animals. Don't handle sponges! Where seen? Sponges are commonly seen on almost all our shores. bacteria and plankton in the water are captured and engulfed by the cells of the sponge. Water is sucked in through tiny holes on the surface of the sponge. Features: A sponge is a simple animal made up of a few types of cells. A sponge is NOT a colony. While many are large and colourful.. Often mistaken for an ascidian. The beating of these hairs generates a current through the sponge. so a sponge does not have a mouth. Sponges Phylum Porifera updated Aug 09 if you learn only 3 things about them . brown. a sponge can pump water equal to its body volume once every 5 seconds! . found under stones and other hiding places and thus overlooked.000 known species. 'Porifera' means 'pore-bearing'. These tiny holes lead to the branching canals. They grow on all kinds of hard surfaces. What are sponges? Often mistaken for plants. Many small animals live inside sponges. Lining these chambers are cells. microscopic organic particles. In general.1cm) with a membranous lip are scattered on the surface. as well as artificial walls and structures. These cells are largely independent of one another and only loosely held together. each with a single beating hair. and not obvious when the sponge is out of water. Riddled with canals: Sponges have a unique body plan based on a system of fine. jetty pilings to coral rubble and even other animals. Texture smooth rubbery glossy. sponges are actually animals. The water is then expelled out of larger holes. Sponges can cause skin irritation. Sometimes mistaken for other blob-like animals such as ascidians. a sponge can filter water many times its body volume in a short time.. others may be small.

being able to perform both male and female functions. violet or brown. Some cells of the sponge change into eggs or sperm. sponges are not as defenceless as they appear. and even stop it altogether (e. But usually. do reproduce sexually. a sponge is a . tough and rubbery. Others may grow upright in branches or in the shape of balls. Those with dense spongin skeletons feel firm. The food produced is shared with the host. A single sponge may harbour several different kinds of symbionts! Sponges Not Softies: Although they look soft and are generally immobile. The eggs develop within the parent sponge. Sponge rash: Some sponges release chemicals which irritate and deter other creatures (including other sponges) from growing over them. Sponges may also have a framework of spicules (tiny.A sponge constantly remoulds and finetunes its structure to ensure efficient filter feeding. These spicules are often sharp and needle-like. Sponges are only positively identified by their spicules (tiny hard spikes) that riddle their bodies. But most sponges have both spongin and spicules and feel rough to the touch. Sponging sponges: Some sponges harbour symbiotic organisms in their bodies. Inside the body. so please don't break the sponges on purpose. Sponges. however. Many sponges have a skeleton made up of tough. hard spikes) throughout their body. In fact.. keeping the sponge upright and their canals open. Sponge symbionts include zooxanthallae as well as cyanobacteria. A sponge can control the flow of water through it. a sponge will play one role at a time. While eggs are generally retained. Some sponges have a spongin-only framework. When sperm are 'inhaled' by another sponge of the same species. Role in the habitat: With its natural defences and a constant flow of water through it. vases or spikes. Most sponges are hermaphrodites. One suggestion is that the vivid colours of some sponges warn of their toxic or distasteful nature. So avoid handling them. The colours might also be a kind of sunblock that protect from harmful rays of the sun. How to stay safe: Don't touch sponges. giving the sponge a rough texture. The free-swimming larvae leave the parent sponge and settle down to become new sponges.g. tubes. when the water is too silty). Spicules also makes them an unpleasant mouthful. and into thicker masses in calmer waters. but a whole sponge can slowly grow from a small bit that broke off. Why so colourful? Scientists don't really know why. some sponges might give you a rash. Spicules may be made up of calcium carbonate (like our bones) or silica (the same substance that glass is made of). sperm are released into the water. Others produce toxins or foul-tasting chemicals to deter sponge-eaters. It may form into a thinner mat in places with strong currents. Spicules may also stick out of the surface. Strange sponge shapes: Sponges may grow as a thin encrusting layer under and over hard surfaces. these fertilise the eggs. Not only can they repair damage to their bodies. A sponge of one species may grow in different shapes depending on its environment. Some sponges harbour symbiotic algae that may colour them green. These organisms undergo photosynthesis to produce food from sunlight. elastic fibres made of a protein called spongin. But this takes time. which in return provides the symbionts with shelter and minerals. spicules provide support. Sponge babies: Sponges have amazing regenerative powers.

. Natural sponges are still used today as luxury bath items. Trampling by careless visitors and over-collection can also affect local populations of sponges. that have adapted to deal with sponge defences. the Velcro crab and Sponge crab use sponges for camouflage. A large sponge may be home to a vast number and variety of such tiny animals that live in the labyrinth of canals and chambers inside the sponge. In the past. Although most sponges are toxic to fish. These include crabs. Ascidians Class Ascidiacea updated Feb 13 if you learn only 3 things about them . Human uses: Today. However. The toxins and foul-tasting substances that sponges have developed to defend themselves are being studied for medical applications such as new antibiotics. poky spicules like most other sponges: most commercial bath sponges are made from Spongia officinalis of the Family Spongiidae that is found in the Mediterranean Sea. . well-oxygenated home for tiny creatures. like other creatures of the intertidal zone. much less bathe with them! Nowadays. They are animals and NOT plants. These are made from sponges that only produce spongin skeletons and do not have lots of sharp. Where seen? These odd blobs are often encountered on many of our shores. Sea turtles also eat sponges. Some sponges may also cause skin irritation. you certainly should not even touch most of our sponges as they have spicules that can cause skin irritation. They also grow on seagrasses and other vegetation in the seagrass lagoon. they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. For example. They are usually found on hard surfaces such as rocks.. A Guide to Sponges of Singapore. While sponges in the Family Spongiidae can be found in Singapore. Nicole de Voogd and Tan Koh Siang. 2008. Larger animals may also exploit sponges for protection. jetty pilings and coral rubble. Besides finding shelter. living sponges have become important as potential sources of new medicines. some creatures may eat larger particles that accumulate on the sponge surface. such as nudibranchs. It is said that some may even feed on substances produced by the sponge. Status and threats: None of our sponges are listed among the threatened animals of Singapore. Please don't break the sponges. Lim Swee Cheng. These include synaptid sea cucumbers. 173pp. some fishes specialise in eating sponges. tunicates are complex animals with internal organs. the sponges you use at home are synthetic and not made from living sponges. Singapore Science Centre. to paint with and to bathe with. Sponges are also eaten by animals. They take time to regrow and are homes to other animals. brittle stars and tiny snapping shrimps. Tunicates and humans belong to the same Phylum Chordata! Unlike sponges. natural sponges were used for padding and packing.safe.

In colonial ascidians. While ascidians tend to be smooth and slimy. Ascidian babies are like us! Ascidians are actually closely related to vertebrates like us! Their freeswimming larvae look like and are called tadpoles. Thick skinned: The entire animal is encased in a little bag. to those more than 10cm. they are sometimes called tunicates. water squirts out of the animal. Some also have an eye spot. These range from tiny ones 1mm long. It is believed that the symbionts share the products of photosynthesis with the host ascidian. In others. Colonial ascidians may grow as slimy layers and blobs on rocks. jetty pilings and other hard surfaces. Sometimes confused with sponges. an ascidian can filter 1 body volume of water per second. They are called colonial or compound ascidians. The subphylum they belong to 'Urochordata' means 'tail string'. At least one species of Didemnum can slowly move over the surface. Features: An ascidian is a complex animal. . The colony can range from a few centimeters in diameter to a meter or more. the zooids may be arranged in regular patterns such as a ring or star-like shape. the zooids are quite independent of one another. or embedded in a common tissue so the entire colony looks like a slimy layer. A tiny specimen only a few centimeters long may pump a hundred litres of water in a span of 24 hours. Most are found in shallow waters but some species are found in very deep waters. On average. ascidians are more complex animals. 'Askidion' comes from the Greek word for 'bladder' or 'little bag'. It usually has a circulatory system. the zooids are usually tiny. Colonial ascidians usually retain and brood their eggs. Squirty surprise: Some solitary ascidians have bands of muscles along their body. Colonial ascidians: Some ascidians form as solitary animals. sometimes called simple ascidians. There are no freshwater species and most cannot tolerate a salinity lower than 20%. tunicates don't have to moult to get bigger! The tunic is made of protein and a substance called tunicin that closely resembles cellulose (the substance that plant walls are made of). Other ascidians may form colonies with many individual animals called zooids. So they are sometimes also called sea squirts. A part of the gut is modified to filter out plankton from this water flow. Unlike other creatures with a tough outer coat. or when they are disturbed. The tunic supports and protects them. Sponge or ascidian? Ascidians are often mistaken for sponges. a digestive system. However. the tunic also grows with it. These may also contain symbiotic cyanobacteria. Most solitary ascidians release their eggs and sperm into the water for external fertilisation. We belong to same Phylum Chordata as they do! There are about 3. a heart and other organs. As the animal grows bigger. sometimes microscopic. In well integrated colonies. Some tropical members of the family Didemnidae contain green symbiotic algae in their tunics and inside the bodies of the zooids. Thus. They may be connected by stem-like structures called stolons. These have a stiff notochord (a primitive spinal cord). More on how to tell apart blob-like animals. It generates a one-way current through its body.What are ascidians? Ascidians are actually closely related to vertebrates like us. In some colonies. Some ascidians have a sturdy outer coat called the tunic. They may do this to get rid of something in them. having both male and female organs. and up to several centimeters thick. Ascidian babies: Almost all ascidians are hermaphrodites. sponges tend to be rough and are usually not slimy. perhaps to maximise the sunlight for the symbionts. while sponges are simple animals without specialised organs. they are highly connected to one another.000 known species of ascidians. When these muscles contract. Colonial ascidians can also multiply by budding off. Most avoid self-fertilisation by developing either eggs or sperm at any one time.

It has bands of muscles along its body. When these muscles constrict. Status and threats: Our ascidians are not listed among the threatened animals of Singapore. near the mid-water mark. like other creatures of the intertidal zone. Usually white with orange or red irregular broad stripes. It appears sad and flaccid when exposed out of water. pp. Compare and contrast the anatomy. but is usually well rounded when submerged. This repulsive character is exploited by other small animals. one shorter and at right angles to the longer larger 'finger'. Large ascidians are eaten in places such as Chile. studying them helps us better understand the ancestry of vertebrates and our own biology. Human uses: As ascidians are closely related to vertebrates. the tail. How are they similar in external appearance? . Synaptid sea cucumbers are sometimes seen draped on ascidians. or used as bait. ascidians still do get eaten by some creatures such as flatworms and nudibranchs.* Family Styelidae updated Feb 13 Where seen? This blob with a thumb and red stripes is commonly seen our Northern shores. It is a solitary (not colonial) ascidian. The larvae then undergos metamorphosis and matures into the adult form. When the larva decides to settle down. Richard S.. jetty pillings and other hard surfaces. Usually seen alone or in groups of a few individuals. notocord and eyespot are absorbed as the larva sticks itself. Some sponge crabs make their living disguises out of ascidians instead of sponges. Europe and Japan. some ascidians may contain substances that are distasteful to deter predators. Trampling by careless visitors may also have an impact on local populations. Role in the habitat: Ascidians are probably not very tasty. But nevertheless. Features: About 5cm long. usually headfirst. 7th Edition. Like some odd disembodied thumbs-up. However. Robert D. Fox. and Sea squirts: our distant cousins by Wim van Egmond and Jan Parmentier on the Microscopy UK website. Edward E. or to get rid of wastes. It does this when disturbed. That's why it is called a sea squirt. Here are really cool close-up photos of ascidian larvae: on Image Quest 3-D Marine Library. Ruppert. As their bright colours suggest. feeding mechanisms. onto a hard surface. made up of two 'fingers'. 2004.Invertebrate Zoology Brooks/Cole of Thomson Learning Inc. water squirts out. They may also produce substances to repel other organisms that try to grow near or on them. Tiny creatures may live inside or on large ascidians. Barnes. and evolutionary differences between a sponge and a tunicate. they are affected by human activities such as reclamation and pollution. 963 Phylum Chordata | Subphylum Tunicata/Urochordata | Class Ascidiacea Thumbs-up sea squirt Polycarpa sp. this animal is usually stuck to a large boulder.The free-swimming stage can last for 36 hours or as little as a few minutes! The tadpoles do not feed.

and a similar regenerative process may be possible for humans. which is one of the biggest economic businesses in the country. Members of this family have been found to have anti-cancer. [34] "Sea Squirt. as antivirals and immunosuppressants  Aplidine. Sciencedaily.124. The mechanisms underlying the phenomenon may lead to insights about the potential of cells and tissues to be reprogrammed and regenerate compromised human organs. L. sponges have evolved to synthesize a variety of unusual compounds. Sponges are the simplest form of kingdom animalia. One example isolated from the Okinawan plakortis sponges. 2007-0424. TUNICATES The coastal environment of Singapore is limited and currently severely affected by coastal development and the port industry. Retrieved 2011-12-07 SPONGES Lacking any protective shell or means of escape. Both have siphons.1016/j. Harbor limits occupy most of the territorial waters.What feeding process do they both use and what do they eat? Does a sponge/tunicate have muscle? Nerves? Brain? Intestines? Explain how far apart they are in an evolutionary sense.[68][69] Etchells. Sardarian A. and reclamation has transformed considerably almost the entire . Whitehead R. (2005). C.com. both filter feed and eat plankton. Tetrahedron Letters 46 (16): 2803–2807. Tunicates have a notochord in early development and they have an organ/tissue-level of organization.tetlet. Heal Thyself: Scientists Make Major Breakthrough in Regenerative Medicine". effective against various types of cancer  Trabectedin. plakoridine A. One such class is the oxidized fatty acid derivatives called oxylipins.02. doi:10. effective against various types of cancer. anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. while sponges have no real organs or any type of nervous system. effective against various types of cancer Tunicates can correct abnormalities over a series of generations.. including:  Didemnins. "A synthetic approach to the plakoridines modeled on a biogenetic theory". tunicates are the highest or most evolved in the animalia kingdom known as chordates(see Phylogenetic Tree) TUNICATES Medical uses Tunicates contain a host of potentially useful chemical compounds.2005. has shown potential as a cytotoxin to murine lymphoma cells.

10. When these particles sink. Lissoclinum punctatum. and Diplosoma simile. . The 'stems' are smooth and do not have obvious holes in them. 2001). they settle over sessile organisms. or even flattened leafy shapes. This organism is actually a symbiotic combination of an algae (Cladophoropsis vaucheriaeformis) and a sponge (Halichondria cartilaginea. long cylindrical or flattened. and adversely affect their metabolism and growth (Dionisio-Sese et al. velvety. I was amazed by a little crab with a big sponge on top-Sponge Crab (Cryptodromia tuberculata). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 47: 1-408 Smooth sponge green seaweed Cladophoropsis vaucheriaeformis* Family Boodleaceae updated Jan 13 Where seen? This woolly branching seaweed is often seen on many of our Southern shores. (2001) The Australian Ascidiacea part 4. Pp. Miyachi S. in the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology While looking for organisms at the Labrador Rocky Shore. especially when the sponge is out of water. Kott (1982) listed three species. Each 'stem' is made up of fine.5-1cm wide. Didemnidae. namely Lissoclinum bistratum. Light to dark green. Lee. usually not Y-shaped. Family Halichondriidae)! The sponge cells and spicules are intertwined with the algae. 5-40. S. such as photosymbiotic ascidians. (2001) Photosynthesis of Prochloron as affected by environmental factors. Most of the coastal waters are filled with suspended particles that block photosynthetic activities of marine organisms. Features: The entire organism can be about 20-30cm across (to 50cm). growing on coral rubble. A. with 'stems' about 0. Lawrence M. Aplousobranchia (3).southern and northeastern coasts of the main island (Chou and Goh 1998). Tan. C.1007/s101260000062 [PubMed] Regarding photosymbiotic ascidians from Singapore. branched filaments that are packed together to form structures that feel woolly. Liao and K. New records of marine algae on artificial structures and intertidal flats in coastal waters of Singapore. Kott P. spongey or felt-like. Tips usually thin and tapering. Marine Biotechnology 3: 7479. Dionisio-Sese ML. Maruyama T. 'Stems' may be short knobs.

2008). As the sponges are sessile. 1993). An Unidentified Sponge Crab spotted at Pulau Sekudu (Photo courtesy of Henrietta Woo) The sponge crab and its sponge have an interesting interaction. 1983). They may obtain more food through filter feeding and need not compete for living space . 1982). These chemicals have a foul smell which may help to confer defence for the crab too. and then use their modified hind legs which bends over its back to carry the sponge cap over their dorsal surface (Wicksten. Some sponges also secrete secondary metabolites as a defence against predation on them (Bell. In some cases. 1985). They use their pincers to cut and trim the sponge to fit into their carapace.The Sponge Crab that we saw at Labrador Rocky Shore (Photo Courtesy of Pei Shuan) These crabs usually have an ability to shape a living sponge into a cover especially at night when it is safer. the sponge is made bigger than the carapace. so that the crabs do not have to change the sponge when it decays or when the crabs moult (McLay. allowing it to blend in with the surrounding and thus escape from predators. they can benefit from this relationship when the crab moves them around. The sponge provides food and shelter for the crab to protect it against unfavourable conditions like currents (McLay. It also serves as a camouflage from predators (Wicksten.

Revision of the Indo-West Pacific Sponge Crabs of the Genus Petalomera Stimpson. it can hide under the reefs. the relationship is likely to be facultative mutualism based on this.L. C.K. McLay. As for the crab. Wicksten. M. what happens in the long term if the crab really cannot find any cover? References Bell. Majidae). 5(3):476-479. (2007). 70: 317-326. 76: 17-32. 2007). J. (2008). (1983). (1982). Brachyura.K. (McLay and Peter. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. Australia. 55(1):107-120. they can help in the selective asexual propagation of the sponge when they move around (McLay. or even a rubber flip flop.J. McLay. (1993). Crustaceana. Queensland. if possible. Wicksten. Dromiidae). Marine Biology.L. Thus.L. it may utilise ascidians (sea squirt) such as those from Polycarpa sp. the sponge can still survive by itself. As the crabs are specific in the type of sponge species they use.N.when in other areas. McLay. Esturine. Marine Biology. C. Dispersal and use of sponges and ascidians as camouflage by Cryptodromia hilgendorfi (Brachyura: Dromiacea). 64(3):314-325. C. Coastal and Shelf Science. Population biology of the Sponge Crab Cryptodromia hilgendorfi (Dromiaeea) in Moreton Bay. A review and model of decorating behaviour in Spider Crabs (Decopoda. 1983). (1985). and Peter. Journal of Crustacean Biology. 1858 (Decopoda. (Photo courtesy of Henrietta Woo) This association somehow benefits both parties. The functional roles of marine Sponges. However. An Unidentified Sponge Crab spotted in Beting Bronok. .L. 79(3):341-353. Carrying behaviour in the Family Homolidae. Brachyura. otherwise. Singapore. and when they are separated. M. K.

DeviantART.com/art/Sponge-Crab-40D0000793-100246309 (accessed on 11 April 2010 . 09 October 2008. URL: http://cristianm.“Sponge Crab” by Cristian M.deviantart.