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Marine demosponge rheology / dissection microscopy

Cite this dataset

Kraus, Emile et al. (2022). Marine demosponge rheology / dissection microscopy [Dataset]. Dryad.


Sponges are animals that inhabit many aquatic environments while filtering small particles and ejecting metabolic wastes. They are composed of cells in a bulk extracellular matrix, often with an embedded scaffolding of stiff, siliceous spicules. We hypothesize that the mechanical response of this heterogeneous tissue to hydrodynamic flow influences cell proliferation in a manner that generates the body of a sponge. Toward a more complete picture of the emergence of sponge morphology, we dissected a set of species and subjected disks of living tissue to physiological shear and uniaxial deformations on a rheometer. Various species exhibited rheological properties such as anisotropic elasticity, shear softening and compression stiffening, negative normal stress, and non-monotonic dissipation as a function of both shear strain and frequency. Erect sponges possessed aligned, spicule-reinforced fibers which endowed three times greater stiffness axially compared with orthogonally. By contrast, tissue taken from shorter sponges was more isotropic but time-dependent, suggesting higher flow sensitivity in these compared with erect forms. We explore ecological and physiological implications of our results and speculate about flow-induced mechanical signaling in sponge cells.


This dataset was collected on Anton Paar MCR 502 WESP and Malvern Kinexus lab+ rheometers as well as optical, dissection, and USB microscopes. Images and raw data tables are included. See the paper for more details.

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National Science Foundation, Award: DMR 1720530

National Science Foundation, Award: CMMI-1548571