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Counterillumination in the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes Berry (Mollusca: Cephalopoda)

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The mutualism between the Hawaiian bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes and the luminescent symbiont Vibrio fischeri has been used extensively as a model system for studies ranging from co-speciation and biogeography to gene regulation and the evolution of pathogenesis. In this association, the luminescent bacterium V. fischeri is housed in a complex light organ within the mantle cavity of E. scolopes. Prior hypotheses have assumed that sepiolid squids in general utilize the bioluminescence produced by their V. fischeri symbionts for counterillumination, a behavior that helps squid camouflage themselves by matching down-welling moonlight via silhouette reduction. This assumption, based solely on the morphology of the squid light organ, has never been empirically tested for Euprymna in the laboratory. Here, we present data demonstrating that E. scolopes can modify the intensity of light produced by V. fischeri in the light organ as down-welling light intensity changes. Bacterial bioluminescence from the light organ is directly correlated with down-welling light intensity, suggesting that E. scolopes individuals utilize and control V. fischeri luminescence for counterillumination.

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Correspondence to M. K. Nishiguchi.

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Communicated by P.W. Sammarco, Chauvin

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Jones, B.W., Nishiguchi, M.K. Counterillumination in the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes Berry (Mollusca: Cephalopoda). Marine Biology 144, 1151–1155 (2004).

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