A recent study by the Universidad de Barcelona identifies a wide variety of genes, which were only previously associated with higher animals actually exist in sponges.It was supposedly absent before. for example, the gene for sex determination, DMRT1 was thought to be present in only complex metazoans like birds, reptiles, mammals, etc. The gene, also present in cnidarians, confirm “the great heterogeneity of sponges despite their simple morphology”, says an expert.
Another finding is the detection of glutamate receptor genes (iGluRs) which involves rapid physiological response transmission, have been found in the sponges Corticium, Sycon and Iricinia.
Although it was always believed that sponges are so simple that their response to stimuli are very minimal, the study identifies the presence of some genes that involve nerve conduction that are present in complex animals. This proves that sponges’ responses to environmental changes or physical stimuli may be more complex than it was thought.
An expert points out that some of these genes seem to be in more basic structures and the functions of many of these genes remain unknown. It may be that some of the genes that are also present in complex animals may not have the same functions in sponges.