ABSTRACT Sponges (Phylum: Porifera) is one of the major groups in the Lakshadweep coral reefs. These sponges harbor diverse bacteria with metabolic potentiality. From biodiversity to biotechnological prospecting, scientific investigations related to sponge associated microorganisms have expanded, but remain rather limited to few geographic locations. In this study, culturable bacteria associated with two demosponges viz Dysidea granulosa, Sigmadocia fibulata and the ambient water were screened for commercially important enzymes such as amylase, protease, gelatinase, lipase, deoxyribonucleic, phosphatase and urease. Amylase and phosphatase were the predominant enzymes produced by >80% of sponge-associated bacteria compared to the ambient water. Nearly 50% of the sponge-associated bacteria expressed multiple enzymatic activities (> 4) with variation in the percentage of expression of individual enzymes. More than 65% of the culturable heterotrophic bacteria associated with sponges were Gammaproteobacteria. The order Vibrionales was the main source for multiple enzyme production. Sponge associated bacteria formed more closely related clusters than the water isolates based upon their activity pattern. High recovery of sponge-associated bacteria with multiple enzymatic activities suggest that these versatile bacteria are yet unexploited potential for bioprospecting.
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