Research projects

SPONGES (2016-2020)

Sponge grounds are among the most diverse, ecologically and biologically important marine ecosystems of the deep-sea, and yet they have so far received very little research attention.

We are now part of a large EU funded H2020 consortium to investigate deep-sea North Atlantic sponge grounds (i.e. sponge-dominated communities).

The main goal of the project SponGES ( is to develop an integrated ecosystem-based approach to preserve and sustainably use deep-sea sponge ecosystems of the North Atlantic.

Coordinator: University of Bergen, Norway (Prof. Hans Tore Rapp).
Co-coordinators: Florida Atlantic University, USA (Prof. Shirley Pomponi) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Prof. Ellen Kenchington)
Consortium: 18 EU, USA and Canadian partners
Timeframe: 4 years (March 2016 – February 2020)

Our group at Uppsala University, will further explore the metabolic diversity of the main sponges from north Atlantic sponge grounds, combined with genomic, transcriptomic and metagenomic data.

More SponGES links:
SponGES facebook
SponGES Twitter
SponGES YouTube channel
SponGES ResearchGat

More SponGES links:
SponGES facebook
SponGES Twitter
SponGES YouTube channel
SponGES ResearchGate


VR linkage grant Sweden-Sri Lanka (PI: Dr. Sunithi Gunasekera).

"Biodiversity and Chemodiversity of Sri Lankan marine sponges, an opportunity to explore new pharmaceutical applications”.

Timeframe: 3 years (June 2018 – June 2021)

Dr. Chamari Hettiarachchi (Dept. of Chemistry, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka) is our International Collaborating scientist.
Dr. Prabath Jayasinghe (National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency, NARA, Colombo, Sri Lanka) is an associated partner that will support this project.
This grant will fund two PhD students from the University of Colombo (and their visits to Uppsala University): Jayani Gamage and Lakmini Kosgahakumbura.

The aims of this project are to 1) transfer our knowledge on sponge sytematics to Sri Lankan students/researchers in order to help them assess the Sri Lankan sponge biodiversity and 2) develop a protocol to study sponge natural product and genetic diversity. We believe both of these aims will unlock the potential of Sri Lankan sponges towards bioactive assays and drug discovery. To achieve this we will conduct a multidisciplinary collaborative project combining our mutual expertise in pharmacognosy, chemistry, structure elucidation, systematics and molecular biology. This project will fill the knowledge gap on Sri Lankan sponge biodiversity in order to spur high-standard sponge research in this country. The findings will contribute to Sri Lankan education, marine biodiversity conservation and economic development but also to the Swedish/Sri Lankan drug discovery program.