Sea sponges also “sneeze” to get rid of mucus: they do this at regular intervals to clean the channels through which they filter the water for feeding. The mucus traps and facilitates the expulsion of waste, thus becoming food for other marine organisms. It was discovered by a group of researchers led by Niklas Korander of the University of Amsterdam. the study published in the journal Current Biology.
“A sponge sneezing isn’t quite the same as a human sneezing, because it lasts about half an hour, but it’s really comparable – says Korender – because sneezing for a sponge and humans is a waste disposal mechanism,” says Korender. This system may be one of the oldest in the world, given that sea sponges have been around for more than 650 million years. Although they may seem simple organisms, they play an important role in many marine ecosystems: they feed by pumping water through a network of entry and exit channels, thus filtering up to thousands of liters of seawater each day. on the organic matter dissolved in it.
By photographing sponges (Caribbean Aplesina Archery and Indo-Pacific Chilonabelisa) in an aquarium, the researchers observed that “every 3 to 8 hours they contract and then loosen their surface tissues,” Corender explains. “At first we thought it was a problem with focusing the image, but then we realized they were ‘sneezing’.
The footage showed that with each sneeze the collected mucus was released and the sponge remained with the clean surface. The intervals also showed that mucus was constantly being expelled from the outflow orifices, not the outflow orifices, and slowly transported along distinct paths to central collecting points on the spongy surfaces. Organisms feed on this mucus.
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