The imminent threat of antimicrobial resistance has necessitated that the search for novel antimicrobials be widened to lesser-explored environments. Marine and freshwater sponges have emerged as the most prolific source of such compounds over the last decade, representing the most widely sampled phyla in the hunt for novel biologics over the last 45 years. Most of the work however has focused on sponges from shallow waters, with the deep-sea sponge microbiome highlighted as a major source of untapped antimicrobial potential. Optimisation of bacterial recovery was carried out for two previously unstudied species of deep-sea Hexactinellid sponge species (Pheronema carpenteri and Rhabdodictyum delicatum recovered from the Rockall Trough, North Atlantic), using a variety of culture media, supplementation and environmental conditions. This optimisation was carried out in parallel with 16S rDNA metagenomic sequencing in order to determine community composition for both sponge species (IonTorrent, Life Technologies). All recovered isolates were assayed for antimicrobial activity, forming a panel of ‘active’ organisms. Two isolates (Ph16-28; A11) were selected for downstream purification and characterisation of the responsible antimicrobial agent via column chromatography. Isolate identities are currently being confirmed via draft whole-genome sequencing (MinION, Oxford Nanopore), and are suspected to be members of the Bacillus and Streptomyces genera. Current data provides a working axiom for the cultivation of deep-sea sponge microbes and suggests the deep-sea sponge microbiome to be a promising source for novel antimicrobials.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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