Esther van der Ent

Esther van Ent

I'm a PhD candidate working within the research project funded by the Vidi grant of prof. Nicole de Voogd: “Sponges in a changing climate: The impact of global environmental change on the microbial and chemical diversity of sponges”. I study the relationship between sponges, their microbial symbionts and nutrient dynamics, and assess how this relationship is influenced by a changing environment.


Sponges, microbial communities, nutrient cycling, climate change, molecular biology, TEM, NanoSIMS

Esther van der Ent, MSc

PhD candidate
Marine biodiversity
+31 (0)71 7519283


"People protect what they love" – Jacques-Yves Cousteau

I love coral reefs. I'm passionate about diving in tropical water, with the overwhelming clear 'blue' on one side and the noisy, biodiverse reef on the other. 

You can already see by eye the high productivity on coral reefs, reflected by the colorful corals, busy fish and noisy shrimps. Most of this productivity however, is invisible. Sponges are continuously pumping vast amounts of water through their body; filtering, assimilating and transforming the nutrients in the water. This way, nutrients become available for organisms higher up in the food chain. Inside these sponges, symbiotic microbes are thought to play an important role in the cycling of nutrients, especially nitrogen. On healthy coral reefs, nitrogen is a limiting nutrient. However, eutrophication is threatening coral reefs everywhere. How will this environmental change influence sponges, their symbionts and the important functions they carry out on coral reefs?

Kapoposang Wall
a sponge


A selection of the topics I am working on currently.



van der Ent, E., Hoeksema, B. W., & de Voogd, N. J. (2016). Abundance and genetic variation of the coral-killing cyanobacteriosponge Terpios hoshinota in the Spermonde Archipelago, SW Sulawesi, Indonesia. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom96(02), 453-463.

MSc/BSc student

Our "Sponge Team" supervises BSc and MSc students on fieldwork and in the lab.

    Fieldwork Spermonde Archipelago,
    Indonesia 2018

    Filtering water with BSc student Jelle Rienstra

    In the

    In 2018 our group went on fieldwork in the Spermonde Archipelago, Indonesia:

    Gala van de wetenschap 2021:

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