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Microbes live in complex microniches within host tissues, but how symbiotic partners communicate to create such niches during development remains largely unexplored. Using confocal microscopy and symbiont genetics, we characterized the shaping of host microenvironments during light organ colonization of the squid Euprymna scolopes by the bacterium Vibrio fischeri During embryogenesis, three pairs of invaginations form sequentially on the organ's surface, producing pores that lead to interior compressed tubules at different stages of development. After hatching, these areas expand, allowing V. fischeri cells to enter and migrate ∼120 μm through three anatomically distinct regions before reaching blind-ended crypt spaces. A dynamic gatekeeper, or bottleneck, connects these crypts with the migration path. Once V. fischeri cells have entered the crypts, the bottlenecks narrow, and colonization by the symbiont population becomes spatially restricted. The actual timing of constriction and restriction varies with crypt maturity and with different V. fischeri strains. Subsequently, starting with the first dawn following colonization, the bottleneck controls a lifelong cycle of dawn-triggered expulsions of most of the symbionts into the environment and a subsequent regrowth in the crypts. Unlike other developmental phenotypes, bottleneck constriction is not induced by known microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) or by V. fischeri -produced bioluminescence, but it does require metabolically active symbionts. Further, while symbionts in the most mature crypts have a higher proportion of live cells and a greater likelihood of expulsion at dawn, they have a lower resistance to antibiotics. The overall dynamics of these distinct microenvironments reflect the complexity of the host-symbiont dialogue.IMPORTANCE The complexity, inaccessibility, and time scales of initial colonization of most animal microbiomes present challenges for the characterization of how the bacterial symbionts influence the form and function of tissues in the minutes to hours following the initial interaction of the partners. Here, we use the naturally occurring binary squid-vibrio association to explore this phenomenon. Imaging of the spatiotemporal landscape of this symbiosis during its onset provides a window into the impact of differences in both host-tissue maturation and symbiont strain phenotypes on the establishment of a dynamically stable symbiotic system. These data provide evidence that the symbionts shape the host-tissue landscape and that tissue maturation impacts the influence of strain-level differences on the daily rhythms of the symbiosis, the competitiveness for colonization, and antibiotic sensitivity. Copyright © 2020 Essock-Burns et al.


Tara Essock-Burns, Clotilde Bongrand, William E Goldman, Edward G Ruby, Margaret J McFall-Ngai. Interactions of Symbiotic Partners Drive the Development of a Complex Biogeography in the Squid-Vibrio Symbiosis. mBio. 2020 May 26;11(3)

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PMID: 32457244

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