The contraction-expansion behaviour in the demosponge Tethya wilhelma is light-controlled and follows a diurnal rhythm

Sarah Bickel Flensburg, Anders Lydik Garm, Peter Funch*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Sponges (phylum Porifera) are metazoans which lack muscles and nerve cells, yet perform coordinated behaviours such as whole-body contractions. Previous studies indicate diurnal variability in both the number of contractions and the expression of circadian clock genes. Here, we show that diurnal patterns are present in the contraction–expansion behaviour of the demosponge Tethya wilhelma, by using infrared videography and a simulated night/day cycle including sunrise and sunset mimics. In addition, we show that this behaviour is at least strongly influenced by ambient light intensity and therefore indicates light-sensing capabilities in this sponge species. This is supported by our finding that T. wilhelma consistently contracts at sunrise, and that this pattern disappears both when the sponge is kept in constant darkness and when it is in constant light.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjeb244751
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume225
Issue24
Number of pages6
ISSN0022-0949
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • Behavioural control
  • Diurnal rhythmicity
  • Light reception
  • Porifera
  • Pre-nervous system

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