Sampling the light-organ microenvironment of Euprymna scolopes: Description of a population of host cells in association with the bacterial symbiont Vibrio fischeri
S. V. Nyholm and M. J. McFall-Ngai
The symbiosis between the squid Euprymna scolopes and the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri has a pronounced diel rhythm, one component of which is the venting of the contents of the light organ into the surrounding seawater each day at dawn. In this study, we explored the use of this behavior to sample the microenvironment of the light-organ crypts. Intact crypt contents, which emerge from the lateral pores of the organ as a thick paste-like exudate, were collected from anesthetized host animals that had been exposed to a light cue. Microscopy revealed that the expelled material is composed of a conspicuous population of host cells in association with the bacterial symbionts, all of which are embedded in a dense acellular matrix that strongly resembles the bacteria-based biofilms described in other systems. Assays of the viability of expelled crypt cells revealed no dead bacterial symbionts and a mixture of live and dead host cells. Analyses of the ultrastructure, biochemistry, and phagocytic activity of a subset of the host cell population suggested that some of these cells are macrophage-like molluscan hemocytes.