Sponge-associated bacteria mineralize arsenic and barium on intracellular vesicles

Ray Keren, Boaz Mayzel, Adi Lavy, Iryna Polishchuk, Davide Levy, Sirine C. Fakra, Boaz Pokroy, Micha Ilan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Arsenic and barium are ubiquitous environmental toxins that accumulate in higher trophic-level organisms. Whereas metazoans have detoxifying organs to cope with toxic metals, sponges lack organs but harbour a symbiotic microbiome performing various functions. Here we examine the potential roles of microorganisms in arsenic and barium cycles in the sponge Theonella swinhoei, known to accumulate high levels of these metals. We show that a single sponge symbiotic bacterium, Entotheonella sp., constitutes the arsenic- and barium-accumulating entity within the host. These bacteria mineralize both arsenic and barium on intracellular vesicles. Our results indicate that Entotheonella sp. may act as a detoxifying organ for its host.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14393
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 24 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

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© The Author(s) 2017.


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