Marine sponge holobionts, defined as filter-feeding sponge hosts together with their associated microbiomes, are prolific sources of natural products. The inventory of natural products that have been isolated from marine sponges is extensive. Here, using untargeted mass spectrometry, we demonstrate that sponges harbor a far greater diversity of low-abundance natural products that have evaded discovery. While these low-abundance natural products may not be feasible to isolate, insights into their chemical structures can be gleaned by careful curation of mass fragmentation spectra. Sponges are also some of the most complex, multi-organismal holobiont communities in the oceans. We overlay sponge metabolomes with their microbiome structures and detailed metagenomic characterization to discover candidate gene clusters that encode production of sponge-derived natural products. The multi-omic profiling strategy for sponges that we describe here enables quantitative comparison of sponge metabolomes and microbiomes to address, among other questions, the ecological relevance of sponge natural products and for the phylochemical assignment of previously undescribed sponge identities.
Keywords: glycosylation; metabolomics; metagenomics; natural product; sponge.