Baby squid to understand weightless immunity

One hundred and twenty eight baby squid are currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Born in the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii, these representatives of the species euprima scallops On June 11, 2021, SpaceX joined the station aboard the Dragon cargo ship. Behind this experience is University of Florida zoologist Jamie Foster, who wants to understand how space affects children. Cephalopods. and specifically how it modifies its symbiotic relationship with a bacterium. Indeed, this four-centimeter long squid lives in symbiosis with a bioluminescent bacterium (vibrio fishery) is present in his coat. This bioluminescence allows it to escape from predators by reproducing the light it receives from the surface beneath its body, which erases all traces of its presence.

Return to Earth in July 2021

The experiment designed by Jamie Foster brought together 16 batches of squid larvae devoid of any bacterial colonies at the station. Half the batches were inoculated on board with Vibrio fisheri bacteria, incubated for 12 h at a temperature of 23 °C while the symbiosis took hold. Then batches were taken and frozen four times during these 12 hours, which would make it possible to observe changes in weightlessness induced by the bacteria in the host animal. The lots that haven’t got the bacteria will serve as a control group. All frozen samples will be returned to Earth in July 2021 aboard the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

First step to understanding immune system disturbances in zero gravity

The study of microgravity-induced modifications in squid-bacteria symbionts is a first step towards understanding disturbances of human physiology in the space environment. During their six-month stay on the International Space Station, astronauts actually see their immune systems go wrong. So far, most microgravity studies have focused on human pathogens, representing fewer than 100 identified species. However, there are over 2,000 identified bacterial species that form beneficial relationships with humans and allow them to better defend themselves against these pathogens. A better understanding of their behavior in zero gravity is essential for future visits to Mars.

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