Wednesday, 21 February 2018

A sponge a phoenix?

All sponges possess a remarkable ability to regenerate lost parts. A piece cut from the body of a sponge is capable of growing into a complete sponge. This power of regeneration helps the sponges to repair the damage caused in the harsh environment.

In this case we see many small round balls present in the interconnected lobes of the sponge. When separating such a lobe from the sponge and pressing on it, tiny balls pop out through a small round membrane at the bottom of the lobe. They are an example of the ability of asexual reproduction by formation of reduction bodies. Many fresh water and marine sponges disintegrate in adverse environmental conditions particularly in winter, leaving small rounded balls called reduction bodies. When favorable conditions return, these reduction bodies grow into complete new sponges. 

Next to sexual reproduction, there are several other and more common ways of asexual reproduction like budding and branching, fission and fragmentation and the release of gemmules.

The sponge shown below was recovered from the Isola di Mozia lagoon in the neighborhood of Marsala on the island of Sicily.

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