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The disease of freshwater sponges was first discovered in 2011, when pink samples were found in the Central Basin of Lake Baikal. Subsequently, the visible signs of the disease have changed, and now sponges appear with various symptoms of damage to the body, such as discoloration, tissue necrosis, the formation of brown patches and dirty-purple biofilms on some branches. These signs of the disease are accompanied by the mass death of sponges. We identified differences in microbiomes by sequencing 16S rRNA genes and found changes in the consortium of microorganisms of freshwater Baikal sponges. We found that the observed imbalance in the studied microbial communities of diseased sponges is caused by several different conditionally pathogenic microorganisms that increase their negative effect by acting together and in concert, which leads to the death of photosynthetic microalgae and sponges. Sponges are an important component of coastal communities, and the massive loss of sponges can obviously affect the structure of benthic communities and the purity of water.


Belikov S, Belkova N, Butina T, Chernogor L, Martynova-Van Kley A, Nalian A, et al. (2019) Diversity and shifts of the bacterial community associated with Baikal sponge mass mortalities. PLoS ONE 14(3): e0213926.




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