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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1994 May;60(5):1565-71.

Effect of the Squid Host on the Abundance and Distribution of Symbiotic Vibrio fischeri in Nature.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089-0371.


Euprymna scolopes, a Hawaiian species of bioluminescent squid, harbors Vibrio fischeri as its specific light organ symbiont. The population of symbionts grew inside the adult light organ with an average doubling time of about 5 h, which produced an excess of cells that were expelled into the surrounding seawater on a diurnal basis at the beginning of each period of daylight. These symbionts, when expelled into the ambient seawater, maintain or slightly increase their numbers for at least 24 h. Hence, locations inhabited by their hosts periodically receive a daily input of symbiotic V. fischeri cells and, as a result, become significantly enriched with these bacteria. As estimated by hybridization with a species-specific luxA gene probe, the typical number of V. fischeri CFU, both in the water column and in the sediments of E. scolopes habitats, was as much as 24 to 30 times that in similar locations where squids were not observed. In addition, the number of symbiotic V. fischeri CFU in seawater samples that were collected along a transect through Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, decreased as a function of the distance from a location inhabited by E. scolopes. These findings constitute evidence for the first recognized instance of the abundance and distribution of a marine bacterium being driven primarily by its symbiotic association with an animal host.

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