A 3-year investigation of sexual reproduction in Geodia cydonium (Jameson 1811) (Porifera, Demospongiae) from a semi-enclosed Mediterranean bay
Mercurio, M.; Corriero, G.; Gaino, E.
Marine Biology 151(4): 1491-1500
The reproductive cycle of Geodia cydonium in a semi-enclosed Mediterranean bay (Porto Cesareo, SW Apulia) was studied with monthly frequency over a 3-year period. The investigation was carried out by utilizing a technique consisting of tagging ten individuals with a PVC stick and cutting off, by means of a metal cork borer, small samples (cylinders about 5 cm3 in volume) from each of them for histological analysis. Sexual reproductive elements were detected in all individuals, but in the third year some specimens showed reduced reproductive activity or complete infertility. Spermatogenesis occurred in a short period (from June to August) whereas oogenesis lasted longer (from spring to late summer). Spermatic cysts occurred when the frequency of specimens with oocytes reached its maximum values. A relationship between water temperature and the onset of gamete differentiation was observed. G. cydonium is here confirmed oviparous and gonochoric with a sex ratio in favour of the females. However, in contrast with current literature on Porifera-which suggests that only a limited number of sponges, all belonging to the same species are sexually active-the sexual reproduction of this species involves all the examined individuals. This finding can be explained by the methodological approach used in this research, which differs from the traditional way of assessing the sponge reproductive cycle by analysing randomly collected specimens within a population. The study of a series of individuals over time represents a better "model technique" for investigating sponge sexual reproduction and the effect of environmental parameters on gamete differentiation.