Symbiosis, by its basic nature, depends on partner interactions that are mediated by cues and signals. This kind of critical reciprocal communication shapes the trajectory of host-microbe associations from their onset through their maturation and is typically mediated by both biochemical and biomechanical influences. Symbiotic partnerships often involve communities composed of dozens to hundreds of microbial species, for which resolving the precise nature of these partner interactions is highly challenging. Naturally occurring binary associations, such as those between certain legumes, nematodes, fishes, and squids, and their specific bacterial partner species offer the opportunity to examine interactions with high resolution and at the scale at which the interactions occur. The goals of this review are to provide the conceptual framework for evolutionarily conserved drivers of host-symbiont communication in animal associations and to offer a window into some mechanisms of this phenomenon as discovered through the study of the squid-vibrio model. The discussion focuses upon the early events that lead to persistence of the symbiotic partnership. The biophysical and biochemical determinants of the initial hours of dialogue between partners and how the symbiosis is shaped by the environment that is created by their reciprocal interactions are key topics that have been difficult to approach in more complex systems. Through our research on the squid-vibrio system, we provide insight into the intricate temporal and spatial complexity that underlies the molecular and cellular events mediating successful microbial colonization of the host animal.
Keywords: animal development; development; horizontal transmission; microbiome; signal/cue.