Sponges are the oldest animal group still living on our planet. Today, although often neglected, the sponge fauna represents one of the most diverse macrobenthic animal groups. There are around 8,600 species of sponges described today with 138 found on the Swedish west coast. One of the most abundant and iconic deep-sea Swedish species is Geodia barretti (fotbollssvampdjur), a massive white animal, which can reach 80 cm in maximum dimension and reach more than 38 kg. Continental shelves and slopes of the cold-temperate north Atlantic accommodate large populations of this species creating what are now called ‘sponge grounds’. Our international consortium SponGES (Deep-sea Sponge Grounds Ecosystems of the North Atlantic) obtained EU H2020 funding to study these poorly known habitats. Within the framework of this project, we will develop a toolbox of genomic resources that will be used as a backbone for several research projects.
1) Genome sequencing, assembly and annotation
2) Transcriptome assemblies
3) ddRADSeq for population genetics