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Lyle Zapato

Help Fund Bobtail Squid Science

Lyle Zapato | 2014-08-07.8285 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature

Sarah McAnulty and Andrea Suria, two Ph.D. students at the University of Connecticut, are working to understand how the immune system of Hawaiian Bobtail Squid is able to mediate the symbiosis between the squid and its bacterial symbiont, Vibrio fischeri:

The Hawaiian Bobtail squid has a glowing bacterium that lives in a specialized organ on their underside. As the squid swims at night, the bacteria glow, preventing predators from detecting the squid's silhouette against the moonlight. Squid immune cells are able to distinguish beneficial from harmful bacteria and know to kill only harmful bacteria. Our lab researches how the immune system makes this decision.

But the squid are hungry little guys who need lots of shrimp. So they (McAnulty and Suria, not the squid) have taken to crowdfunding site Experiment (like Kickstarter, only for science). Here's their project page, "How do Bobtail Squid choose their glowing bacterial partner?", and their video pitch:

McAnulty also has videos showing how they anesthetize the squid with magnesium chloride in order to draw blood (unfortunately, squid, unlike octopuses, don't respond well to cataleptic hypnosis):

And here's a bonus one of a squid hiding under the sand:

So, why not kick in a buck or ten to buy some squid a meal (and further our understanding of immune-system-mediated bacterial symbiosis so one day we can all have bioluminescent tattoos*). What else are you going to do with the money? Crowdfund potato salad?

* Not an actual stretch goal.

End of post.