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Masters of Chemistry
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Masters of Chemistry

Researchers are combing the oceans in search of new compounds which can help people.

They Do More Than Soak Up Water

Most everyone is familiar with sponges. You see them all the time and all over the place. But not everyone knows that before modern manufacturing and synthetic materials, all sponges came from the sea. It's a neat little fact that gets passed around as trivia, but not much else. But there is a lot more to sponges than soaking up water. They display incredible diversity, amazing adaptability in the habitats they occupy, and they are masters of chemistry!

Head Scratchers

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. Why are sessile organisms a good place to look for biologically active compounds? Does this surprise you? Why or why not? Explain your thinking.
  2. Why is it vital that research such as this be conducted by an interdisciplinary team? Explain your thinking fully.
  3. Is it enough to sample a sponge species once to know if it has an interesting compound? Why or why not? Explain your thinking fully.
  4. What sort of habitat is really dominated by sponges? Why do you think this? Consider all the things different organisms need.
  5. What needs to be done to determine species among sponges? Why is this more difficult than in other organisms?

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