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NSF grants UNH $716K for squid bacteria study

Dec 2013
A $716,000 grant from the National Science Foundation will allow microbiologists at the University of New Hampshire in Durham to study the evolution of beneficial microbes by examining the symbiotic relationship between the Hawaiian bobtail squid and a bacterium that helps it avoid predators by emitting light. Cheryl Whistler and Vaughn Cooper, both associate professors of microbiology and genetics, are the investigators on the three-year grant.

Courtesy of e.roettinger,

The tiny Hawaiian bobtail squid plays host to the light-producing bacterium Vibrio fischeri. In exchange for a home and nutrients, V. fischeri lights up the nocturnal squid’s underside, fooling predators below into seeing this phony moonlight but not the dark shape of the tasty squid. With its invisibility cloak trick, the squid-bacterium symbiosis is a well-studied model, giving the UNH researchers a strong scientific foundation on which to base their work. “It’s a charismatic host and a glow-in-the-dark symbiont, making this system an excellent symbiosis ambassador,” Whistler said.

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