Animation of micro-computed tomography of bioerosion trace Entobia megastoma made by East Australian bioeroding sponge Cliona celata

2019-11-21T16:25:19Z (GMT) by Christine H L Schönberg
Endolithic bioerosion is difficult to analyse and to describe, and it usually requires damaging of the sample material. Sponge erosion (Entobia) may be one of the most difficult to evaluate as it is simultaneously macroscopically inhomogeneous and microstructurally intricate. We studied the bioerosion traces of the two Australian sponges Cliona celata Grant, 1826 (sensu Schönberg 2000) and Cliona orientalis Thiele, 1900 with a newly available radiographic technology: high resolution X-ray micro-computed tomography (MCT). MCT allows non-destructive visualisation of live and dead structures in three dimensions and was compared to traditional microscopic methods. MCT and microscopy showed that C. celata bioerosion was more intense in the centre and branched out in the periphery. In contrast, C. orientalis produced a dense, even trace meshwork and caused an overall more intense erosion pattern than C. celata. Extended pioneering filaments were not usually found at the margins of the studied sponge erosion, but branches ended abruptly or tapered to points. Results obtained with MCT were similar in quality to observations from transparent optical spar under the dissecting microscope. Microstructures could not be resolved as well as with e.g. scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Even though sponge scars and sponge chips were easily recognisable on maximum magnification MCT images, they lacked the detail that is available from SEM. Other drawbacks of MCT involve high costs and presently limited access. Even though MCT cannot presently replace traditional techniques such as corrosion casts viewed by SEM, we obtained valuable information. Especially for the possibility to measure endolithic pore volumes, we regard MCT as a very promising tool that will continue to be optimised. A combination of different methods will produce the best results in the study of Entobia.

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