As our understanding of the human microbiome progresses, so does the need for natural experimental animal models that promote a mechanistic understanding of beneficial microorganism-host interactions. Years of research into the exclusive symbiosis between the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes, and the bioluminescent bacterium Vibrio fischeri have permitted a detailed understanding of those bacterial genes underlying signal exchange and rhythmic activities that result in a persistent, beneficial association, as well as glimpses into the evolution of symbiotic competence. Migrating from the ambient seawater to regions deep inside the light-emitting organ of the squid, V. fischeri experiences, recognizes and adjusts to the changing environmental conditions. Here, we review key advances over the past 15 years that are deepening our understanding of these events.
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