Frequently, one does
not have to look very far to find that the wonders of
nature and science are not so mystified in the depths
of nescience. While scientists may have to travel abyssal
depths (7000 meters or more!) to discover the realm of
porifera, many porifera dwell in shallow waters. In the
shallow waters of the southwestern Atlantic Ocean, porifera
are abundant. However, these porifera are also enriched
with chemical compounds that render them priceless in
a pursuit for more resistant anti-biotics and a cure for
Within the waters of
the world, thousands of invertebrates have been acknowledged
for anti-microbial activity. Porifera species are the
most noted of these invertebrates. As compounds are isolated
from Atlantic sponges, bioactivity against algae, fish,
invertebrates, and microorganisms have been demonstrated.
The metabolites produced by sponges are plentiful. As
more species are discovered to have antimicrobial activity,
the pharmacological labs are being infiltrated by a less
synthetic medicine, one that Mother Nature has given us
since the PreCambrian, had we only sought to reveal it.
But now, the barriers of technology have been defied,
and the real potential of sponges as medicine has been
In recent studies conducted
by Dr. Eduardo Hajdu, of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and his
colleagues, ninety-five percent of twenty-one species
tested demonstrated anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, or other
anti-microbial activity. If such results were applied
to the remainder of sponge species, ninety-five percent
of all sponges may offer natural bio-products that are
within the grasp of modern science. The sample porifera
were recommened for further testing by pharmaceutical
scientists, and in a few more years, the leading prescription
anti-biotic may be Poriferal. Amazingly, such strong bioactivity
was detected in samples relatively in the same vicinity,
the warm waters of Praia do Forno Bay, 170 kilometers
east of Rio de Janeiro.
After collection, the
sponges were tested immediately or frozen for labratory
investigation. The sponges then took a trip through a
methanol extractor, a centrifuge, and petri dishes. Following
preparation, the sponges were inoculated with bacteria.
Yeast was also tested against the sample species.
Of the twenty-one species
tested, only one demonstrated no apparent anti-microbial
activity. This species was Cinachyrella alloclada.
Certain conditions affected the bioactivity of the sponges.
Interestingly, location of habitat and growth structure
were not important factors. When mucus was created by
sponges, antimicrobial activity was more substantiated.
Also, bacteria were generally more sensitive to sponge
compounds than the fungi. Currently, nine species, which
demonstrated the most substantial anti-microbial activity
are recommened to undergo pharmacological investigation.
These species are:
• Monanchora arbuscula
• Tedania ignis
• Tedania sp...cf
• Amphimedon Viridis
• Polymastia janeirensis
• Aplysina fulva
• Pseudaxinella lunaecharta
• Mycale arenosa
Species noted for both antibacterial
and antifungal activity were Monanchora arbuscula
and Arenosclera sp. Stronger antibacterial activity
was displayed by Pseudaxinella lunaecharta, Mycale
arenosa, and Aplysina fulva. Stronger antifungal
activity was demonstrated by Tedania sp. and Chelonaplysilla
erecta. A compound that was manifested in antibacterial
activity was chloramphenicol. Yeasts were inhibited by
cycloheximide. It was also noted that extracts from methanol
were more bioactive than extracts from aqueous samples.
However, other studies have noted
that results are not always consistent between species.
A change in conditions such as season may be responsible.
In nature, these compounds may be
utilized for several purposes. The most obvious use is
for warding off predators or dangerous microbes. Amazingly,
one species, Polymastia janeirensis, if damaged,
secretes a highly anti-microbial liquid. One species of
sponge, Siphonodictyon sp., uses its secretions
to preven the growth of coral within its habit. If such
activity occurs in nature, could not it be used to benefit
mankind, with the use of technology and science?
The creators of this web page enjoyed reading
the articles sent to us by Dr. Eduardo Hajdu on this topic.
We thank him for his positive encouragement and interaction
with us throughout the project.