Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 179, Issue 1, pp 65–73 | Cite as

Bioluminescence in the symbiotic squid Euprymna scolopes is controlled by a daily biological rhythm

  • K. J. Boettcher
  • E. G. Ruby
  • M. J. McFall-Ngai
Original Papers


In most symbioses between animals and luminous bacteria it has been assumed that the bacterial symbionts luminesce continuously, and that the control of luminescent output by the animal is mediated through elaborate accessory structures, such as chromatophores and muscular shutters that surround the host light organ. However, we have found that while in the light organ of the sepiolid squid Euprymna scolopes, symbiotic cells of Vibrio fischeri do not produce a continuously uniform level of luminescence, but instead exhibit predictable cyclic fluctuations in the amount of light emitted per cell. This daily biological rhythm exhibits many features of a circadian pattern, and produces an elevated intensity of symbiont luminescence in juvenile animals during the hours preceding the onset of ambient darkness. Comparisons of the specific luminescence of bacteria in the intact light organ with that of newly released bacteria support the existence of a direct host regulation of the specific activity of symbiont luminescence that does not require the intervention of accessory tissues. A model encompassing the currently available evidence is proposed for the control of growth and luminescence activity in the E. scolopes/V. fischeri light organ symbiosis.

Key words

Biological rhythm Bioluminescence Symbiosis Vibrio fischeri Euprymna scolopes 







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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. J. Boettcher
    • 1
  • E. G. Ruby
    • 1
  • M. J. McFall-Ngai
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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