A paradigm shift has recently transformed the field of biological science; molecular advances have revealed how fundamentally important microorganisms are to many aspects of a host’s phenotype and evolution. In the process, an era of “holobiont” research has emerged to investigate the intricate network of interactions between a host and its symbiotic microbial consortia. Marine sponges are early-diverging metazoa known for hosting dense, specific, and often highly diverse microbial communities. Here we synthesize current thoughts about the environmental and evolutionary forces that influence the diversity, specificity, and distribution of microbial symbionts within the sponge holobiont, explore the physiological pathways that contribute to holobiont function, and describe the molecular mechanisms that underpin the establishment and maintenance of these symbiotic partnerships. The collective genomes of the sponge holobiont form the sponge hologenome, and we highlight how the forces that define a sponge’s phenotype in fact act on the genomic interplay between the different components of the holobiont.