MBL March Madness: Longfin Squid

Credit: Roger Hanlon, MBL

MBL March Madness: Longfin Squid (Doryteuthis pealeii)

Doryteuthis pealeii, often called the “Woods Hole squid” by locals, is a longstanding model for cellular neuroscience, beginning with Nobel Prize winning research on nerve impulses in the 1950s. Studies with Doryteuthis pealeii have led to major advances in neurobiology, including description of the fundamental mechanisms of neurotransmission. At the MBL, it is used as a model organism to understand adaptive coloration, development, vision, and behavior. Like other cephalopods, Doryteuthis pealeii has the ability to extensively recode its own genetic information within messenger RNA. In summer of 2020, scientists at the MBL used CRISPR Cas-9 to knock out a target gene in Doryteuthis pealeii — a first for any cephalopod.

Cool facts

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  • It is colorblind but has special pigment and reflector cells in the skin, and can rapidly change color to camouflage.
  • Doryteuthis has a giant axon that is visible to the naked eye. This axon is important in its jet-propelled escape behavior. By studying it, scientists have learned about how nerve cells send signals.
  • It has three hearts, two gills, and an ink sac.

(ID Card Photo Credit: Elaine Bearer)

Publications from the MBL

Crawford, Karen et al. (2020) Highly Efficient Knockout of a Squid Pigmentation Gene. Current Biology. doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.06.099

Williams, T.L., Senft, S.L., Yeo, J. et al. (2019) Dynamic pigmentary and structural coloration within cephalopod chromatophore organs. Nat Commun doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-08891-x

Kingston ACN, Wardill TJ, Hanlon RT, Cronin TW (2015) An Unexpected Diversity of Photoreceptor Classes in the Longfin Squid, Doryteuthis pealeii. PLoS ONE. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0135381

T. Gonzalez-Bellido, T. J. Wardill, K. C. Buresch, K. M. Ulmer, R. T. Hanlon (2014) Journal of Experimental Biology. doi.org/10.1242/jeb.091884

Oshima M, di Pauli von Treuheim T, Carroll J, et al. (2016) Peripheral injury alters schooling behavior in squid, Doryteuthis pealeii. Behavioural Processes. doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2016.04.008

Alon, Shahar et al. (2014) The majority of transcripts in the squid nervous system are extensively recoded by A-to-I RNA editing. eLife. doi.org/10.7554/eLife.05198


Division: Lophotrochozoa

Lophotrochozoa is one of the major groups within the animal kingdom. It comprises: segmented worms, mollusks (the phylum that includes snails, squid, octopuses, and clams) as well as lophophores, a group of animals that include clam-like organisms known brachiopods and bryozoans, sedentary colony animals sometimes referred to as “moss animals.” Learn more Meet the Other Lophotrochozoan Organisms

What is MBL March Madness?

Based on the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament, during MBL March Madness, popular MBL organisms face off for your votes. YOU have the opportunity to decide what organism is crowned victorious by voting for your favorite organisms in a series of head-to-head match-ups. Voting will take place on the MBL social media channels from March 29 - April 7. Learn more and download a bracket at mbl.edu/march-madness