That's a very good idea! As you may know, sponges
feed by filtering seawater through many tiny holes
across their whole bodies. Because of this,they
may indeed be very good indicators for how much of
various pollutants are present in sea water. Their
cells are generally very "plastic," meaning they
can perform various roles, and often even change
from one cell type to another cell type (like
human stem cells). Because of that, it might even
be possible to cut pieces of them off to test for
the toxins instead of collecting and killing the
whole sponge. The piece that was cut off might
My guess is that they would
probably work well for some pollutants and not for
others, because different chemicals will react
differently with sponge cells and proteins.
Scientists often have to "optimize" their
experiments,which means they have to try different
ways to get the experiments to work as well as
possible. In this case, you'd probably have to
optimize for what sponge species worked best and
was easiest to care for, and what chemical
pollutants that sponge was best able to absorb
from the sea water. After that, you might have a
great indicator for ocean pollutants!
coming up with such great ideas!
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