Big MACs

Science Signaling  04 Feb 2014:
Vol. 7, Issue 311, pp. ec32
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2005141

Tubeworms are important marine benthic species that encrust rocks and contribute to fouling of man-made objects, such as ships’ hulls and drilling well heads. Like most marine invertebrates, the larval stages of tubeworms are free-swimming, but the cues for larval settlement and the triggers for metamorphosis are mysterious. Shikuma et al. experimented on larval settlement by the tubeworm Hydroides elegans, which needs to associate with a biofilm-forming bacterium, Pseudoalteromonas luteoviolacea, before settlement can occur. The bacterium was found to express metamorphosis-associated contractile structures (MACs) in large and structurally elaborate arrays that allow the tubeworm larvae to develop.

N. J. Shikuma, M. Pilhofer, G. L. Weiss, M. G. Hadfield, G. J. Jensen, D. K. Newman, Marine tubeworm metamorphosis induced by arrays of bacterial phage tail–like structures. Science 343, 529–533 (2014). [Abstract] [Full Text]