Symbiont recognition and subsequent morphogenesis as early events in an animal-bacterial mutualism

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Science  06 Dec 1991:
Vol. 254, Issue 5037, pp. 1491-1494
DOI: 10.1126/science.1962208


Bacterial colonization of the developing light organ of the squid Euprymna scolopes is shown to be highly specific, with the establishment of a successful association resulting only when the juvenile host is exposed to seawater containing one of a subset of Vibrio fischeri strains. Before a symbiotic infection the organ has elaborate epithelial structures covered with cilia and microvilli that are involved in the transfer of bacteria to the incipient symbiotic tissue. These structures regressed within days following infection; however, they were retained in uninfected animals, suggesting that the initiation of symbiosis influences, and is perhaps a prerequisite for, the normal developmental program of the juvenile host.

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