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Marine biologists to gather at NMSU for 21st annual squid conference

The 21st Annual Euprymna scolopes-Vibrio fischeri Symbiosis Symposium Pow Wow 2009 might be a long title, but to a group of marine biologists, it's a chance for "cross-talk" between the national laboratories addressing questions regarding symbiotic relationships from two different perspectives.



Euprymna tasmanica is one of about ten species of bobtail squid which will be investigated at the Symbiosis Symposium on March 13 and 14 at New Mexico State University. (Photo by Mark Norman)

About 40 biologists from different states will meet for the symbiosis symposium on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14 at the New Mexico State University campus. The symposium began at the University of Southern California and is hosted in a different location every year since. NMSU was chosen as the location this year, and two NMSU biology faculty members, Michele Nishiguchi ("Nish") and Maria Castillo are spearheading the event.

Nishiguchi and Castillo's groups are two of 11 independent laboratories, which study bobtail squids and the bacteria that are associated within them. This "model" of a symbiotic relationship has many parallels to other associations between bacteria and their hosts. The other labs across the nation each have their own "niches" or particular areas of study when it comes to squid, Nishiguchi said. The conference serves as a way for all of them to come together and share their findings.

"Since there are so few of us (who study squid-Vibrio relationships), we host this symposium as a sort of collaboration instead of a competition among scientists," Nishiguchi said. The principle investigators who will be present at the symbiosis symposium all have ties to the University of Southern California and the University of Hawaii, where they were doctoral or postdoctoral students studying under founding members Margaret McFall-Ngai and Edward Ruby. The two are currently members of the University of Wisconsin, Madison biology faculty.

Eric Samuel Locker, the director NIH COBRE Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology at University of New Mexico will be the symposium featured guest speaker at the symposium. Locker's research interests include comparative immunology with an emphasis on invertebrate models (organisms without a backbone) and the biology of freshwater snails and their host-parasite relationships.

For more information contact (575) 646-3721 or visit http://biology-web.nmsu.edu/nish/powwow/