Adult stem cells host intracellular symbionts: the poriferan archetype

Alexander Ereskovsky, Baruch Rinkevich, Ildiko Maureen Lara Somorjai

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Unlike vertebrates, adult stem cells (ASC) in a wide range of aquatic invertebrate phyla are morphologically diverse, exhibiting a wide range of differentiation states as well as somatic and germline physiognomies. They may arise de novo by trans-differentiation from somatic cells and above all represent phenotypes of specialized cells with multifunctionality. One unexpected phenomenon is the presence of intracellular symbionts in the ASCs of some invertebrates. Overviewing the literature on intracellular symbionts in sponge (Porifera) ASCs and in other aquatic invertebrates, we reveal that ASC intracellular prokaryotic and eukaryotic symbionts are restrictive to a single sponge class, the Demospongiae. The eukaryotic symbionts in sponges are exclusively unicellular photosynthetic algae, and are found only in pluripotent stem cells, most frequently in the archaeocytes; they are documented in five orders of Demospongiae. Bacteriocyte-like cells have been reported in sponges and three other phyla, indicative of their independent evolutionary origins. The results of this study add considerable insight into the establishment and maintenance of intracellular symbioses in ASCs of aquatic invertebrates, and provide new a understanding of the diversity of symbiotic associations across the tree of life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in aquatic invertebrate stem cell research
Subtitle of host publicationfrom basic research to innovative applications
EditorsLoriano Ballarin, Baruch Rinkevich, Bert Hobmayer
Place of PublicationBasel
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9783036516356
ISBN (Print)9783036516363
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


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