Welcome to the genome browser of the marine sponge Tethya wilhelma

Tethya wilhelma (Class: Demospongiae, Family: Tethyidae) is a ball-shaped demosponge that undergoes cyclic contractions. It is an emerging laboratory model for many topics, including multicellularity, early-animal evolution, biomineralization, and microbial interactions. The original description by Sarà, Nickel & Brümmer (2001) can be found here.


Genome browser:

Tethya wilhelma



Contraction of a normal specimen (A) Maximally expanded state of Tethya wilhelma. (B) The same specimen approximately an hour later in the most contracted state. (C) Cartoon view of most contracted versus expanded state.
Scale bar applies to all images. Photos courtesy of Dan B. Mills.

This genome was used for the following publications:

Mills, DB., WR. Francis, S. Vargas, M. Larsen, CPH. Elemans, DE. Canfield, G. Wörheide (2018) The Last Common Ancestor of Animals Lacked the HIF Pathway and Respired in Low-Oxygen Environments. eLife 7: e31176 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.31176

Francis, WR., M. Eitel, S. Vargas, M. Adamski, SHD. Haddock, S. Krebs, H. Blum, D. Erpenbeck, G. Wörheide (2017) The Genome Of The Contractile Demosponge Tethya wilhelma And The Evolution Of Metazoan Neural Signalling Pathways DOI: 10.1101/120998


Commands and scripts for the analysis can be found here.

Raw data:

NCBI BioProject: PRJNA288690
Genomic DNA paired end reads: SRR2163223
Mate pairs reads: SRR2296844
Moleculo reads: SRR5369934
RNAseq reads: SRR4255675


This work was supported by a LMUexcellence grant (Project MODELSPONGE) as part of the German Excellence Initiative and the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Other links:

For most questions about the genome project or Tethya wilhelma as a model organism, including requests for (live) specimens, or data usage, please contact Prof. Dr. Gert Wörheide: geobiologie@geo.lmu.de

Maintained by: Molecular Geo & Paleobiology Lab and SPONGEBASE.NET

Last update: July 8, 2019