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What’s Vibrio Fischeri? Why, Possibly the State Microbe!

Hawaii Senate Bill 3124 would make Vibrio fischeri the official state microbe.

Here’s why, according to the bill:

Vibrio fischeri is deserving of being Hawaii’s official state microbe because of its broad reputation as among the best-studied beneficial microbes. These bacteria live in a symbiotic relationship with the Hawaiian bobtail squid, giving the animal the power to produce bioluminescence, or light from a living organism. The squid is endemic to Hawaii.

This tiny creature is only two inches long and hunts at night on reef flats. However, moonlight casts a shadow onto the sea floor, which alerts predators to the squid’s presence. To counter this effect, the Hawaiian bobtail squid cultures luminescent Vibrio fischeri in a special light-emitting organ, which allows it to become stealthy by projecting light that minimizes the dark shadow of its body.

Researchers have found that Vibrio fischeri make chemical signals to communicate with each other in a process known as “quorum sensing”. … The study of this chemical reaction has numerous medical and practical applications, such as testing for toxic compounds in water.
 
 

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