Researchers from the Center for Advanced Studies of Blanes (CEAB), the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the University of Brest, CNRS, LEMAR in France have discovered that marine sponges, the group of animals that appeared earliest on Earth, contribute in a relevant way to one of the fundamental biogeochemical cycles of the ocean: the silicon cycle. The study is detailed in Nature Geosciences.
Silicon is one of the most abundant chemical elements in the universe and, after oxygen, the second most abundant on Earth. In the ocean, it makes up part of sediments, minerals and rocks and, more importantly, it is dissolved in seawater. This dissolved silicon plays a key role in the ecological functioning of the global oceans and among other major functions, it is required for the growth of diatoms.
Read the research paper: Manuel Maldonado, María López-Acosta, Cèlia Sitjà, Marta García-Puig, Cristina Galobart, Gemma Ercilla and Aude Leynaert. Sponge skeletons as an important sink of silicon in the global oceans. Nature Geosciences 10.1038/s41561-019-0430-7