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From sea to squid, thanks to slime

Goo-making genes help luminescent bacteria colonize symbiotic partner

BOSTON — Making mucus is nothing to sneeze at for a tiny Hawaiian squid.

Young bobtail squids secrete the goo to attract light-emitting bacteria, which swim inside the squid and take up residence, helping it hide from predators. Now researchers have learned that the bacteria make their own mucus, a slimy matrix of polysaccharides. Clues about which bacterial genes are involved in the goo-making suggest that the slime is critical for successful squid colonization, scientists reported June 3 at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

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