The humble Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes) is helping to build the University of Hawaiʻi’s capacity in the hot field of microbiome research. A microbiome is a community of microorganisms. Researchers at the Kewalo Marine Laboratory are studying the simple squid and its interactions with a single bioluminescent bacterium (Vibrio fisheri) that grows inside of it to shed light on the incredibly more complex human microbiome.
“We use the squid-vibrio system as a very simple model and the bacteria, this particular luminous bacterium that makes light for the squid associates with the animal cells in exactly the same way as our bacteria associate with our cells,” explains Margaret McFall-Ngai, director of the Pacific Biosciences Research Center (PBRC).
Microbiome research is so important that the White House announced a National Microbiome Initiative in 2016 to understand, protect and restore healthy microbiome function, with specific implications for human health, environmental sustainability and energy and food production.
Read more about it in the UH System News.