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Animals evolved in the presence of their microbial symbionts, most of which provide a benefit to their hosts.  We in the Heath-Heckman lab at MSU study the cellular, molecular, and genetic basis of bacterial-animal mutualisms with a focus on the host.  To this end we use the interaction between the Hawaiian bobtail squid (Euprymna scolopes, as shown above) and its luminescent bacterial symbiont Vibrio fischeri  to discover the mechanisms by which animals establish and maintain their bacterial symbionts.

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