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The 11th World Sponge Conference 2022 scientific session program is divided in 5 different themes. These themes are used for abstract submissions, but the oral presentations and speed talks of these themes will not be scheduled in a specific order.

Theme 1

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Species & populations

In the era of an increasing loss of biodiversity, the need for proper knowledge of species, populations and communities is imminent. However, sponge taxonomy & systematics still faces many challenges and the phylogenetic relationships among species is still largely unresolved. Moreover, the genetic diversity at a population level is still poorly studied and is also of importance, among other things, for conservation purposes. This theme focusses on sponge taxonomy & systematics, phylogeography, and population genetics. In addition, biodiversity studies, especially in poorly sampled or rare biotopes are received.

Theme 2

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Ecosystem Function & Services

Sponges are increasingly recognized to play an important role in shaping the many ecosystems where they are abundant in, from deep-sea sponge grounds, to tropical coral reefs, to freshwater mountain lakes. Sponges act as ecological engineers and engines by providing structure, habitat and shelter, and by altering inorganic and organic nutrient cycles. Thereby, they influence local productivity and diversity. This theme brings together different lines of research that investigate overarching or yet undescribed ecological functions carried out by sponges. Further, this theme encourages stimulating exchange across sponge scientists from different disciplines, stakeholders, managers, and policy makers to identify functional changes in sponge-driven ecosystems and their impact on (desirable) services provided by the ecosystem.

Theme 3

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Microbial Ecology

If we view ourselves or any other eukaryote without taking associated bacteria into account it is as if we look into a distorting mirror. Because something of the significant “other” that makes part of the “self” is missing. It has become obvious that symbiosis appears to be the rule rather than the exception for sponges. Symbiotic microorganisms offer their eukaryotic hosts advantages that make them more competitive, more flexible in coping with a changing environment and allow colonization of environmental niches that would otherwise be out of reach. This theme focusses on evolutionary and ecological aspects of microbial communities in sponges including bacteria, archaea and unicellular eukaryotes.

Theme 4

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Organismal, Cell, and Molecular Biology

The biology of sponges serves a wide variety of scientific realms, including (but not restricted to) developmental and evolutionary biology, animal-microbe symbiosis, to understanding their physiological plasticity to changing future environmental conditions. Their capacity to cope with environmental changes will ultimately determine the future development of the ecosystems in which they reside. This theme focusses on the (functional) physiology of sponge (i.e., the host and associated microorganisms) in general, from molecular to cellular to organism processes, including but not limited to physiological plasticity, phenotype-genotype interactions and behavioural changes.

Theme 5

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Applied Science

Sponges and their microbiomes continue to serve as a source of interesting compounds for society, as a tool to remediate water pollution and as a source of bio-inspired designs for materials. In this theme, we welcome presentations on biochemical compounds found in sponges (their structure, formation and application), gene mining, development of biomaterials from sponges (chitin, collagen, biosilica), methods to produce sponges and sponge-associated microorganisms through aquaculture, cell culture, microbial fermentations and recombinant technologies, and applications of sponges in bioremediation processes.

We are very much looking forward meeting you