Biodiversity in South East Asia: an overview of freshwater sponges (Porifera: Demospongiae: Spongillina)

  • Renata Manconi | Università di Sassari, Italy.
  • Nisit Ruengsawang Rajamangala University of Technology Krungthep, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Viengkorn Vannachak National University of Laos, Lao People's Democratic Republic.
  • Chutima Hanjavanit Khon Kaen University, Thailand.
  • Narumon Sangpradub Khon Kaen University, Thailand.
  • Roberto Pronzato Università di Genova, Italy.


Despite the fact that South East (SE) Asia is considered as a biodiversity hotspot, knowledge of sessile invertebrates such as freshwater sponges (Porifera: Haplosclerida: Spongillina) in this region is poor and scarcely reported. For this synopsis, diversity and distribution of SE Asian inland water sponges is reported on the basis of available literature and a recent biodiversity assessment of the Lower Mekong basin. A diagnostic key of families/genera from SE Asia is provided together with Light Microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy protocols to prepare the basic spicular complement for taxonomic identification. So far, SE Asian freshwater sponges consist of widespread and/or endemic species belonging to the families Metaniidae, Potamolepidae, and Spongillidae. The highest diversity is recorded from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Myanmar, respectively. Data from the other countries are necessary for our understanding of their diversity and distribution. Biodiversity in SE Asia is strongly underestimated, as indicated by recent new records and the discovery of new species of freshwater sponges in Thailand. Further investigations should reveal higher values of taxonomic richness, highlighting biogeographic patterns at the family/genus/species levels. A cooperative network involving Thai, Laotian and Italian researchers, was set up to contribute and fulfil knowledge on taxonomy, ecology and biotechnological potentialities of these neglected filter feeders, playing a key role in water purification and biomass production in both lentic and lotic ecosystems in the tropics.



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Author Biographies

Renata Manconi, Università di Sassari

Dipartimento di Scienze della Natura e del Territorio

Nisit Ruengsawang, Rajamangala University of Technology Krungthep, Bangkok
Division of Biology, Faculty of Science and Technology
Viengkorn Vannachak, National University of Laos
Department of Biology, Faculty of Science
Chutima Hanjavanit, Khon Kaen University

Applied Taxonomic Research Center & Department of Biology, Faculty of Science

Narumon Sangpradub, Khon Kaen University
Applied Taxonomic Research Center & Department of Biology, Faculty of Science
Roberto Pronzato, Università di Genova
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell’Ambiente e della Vita (DISTAV
Freshwater Invertebrates Congress
Supporting Agencies
N Ruengsawang, R. Manconi were supported by the Office of the Higher Education Commission, Thailand. Funds to R.Manconi were partly provided by the Italian Ministero Università e Ricerca Scientifica-Tecnologica (MIUR-PRIN) and Fondazione Banco di Sardegna
Taxonomic richness, Oriental region, biogeographic patterns, conservation
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How to Cite
Manconi R, Ruengsawang N, Vannachak V, Hanjavanit C, Sangpradub N, Pronzato R. Biodiversity in South East Asia: an overview of freshwater sponges (Porifera: Demospongiae: Spongillina). J Limnol [Internet]. 2013Aug.26 [cited 2021May18];72(s2):e15. Available from: