Cuttlefish are curious creatures. Relatives of squid and octopuses, they are part of a group of molluscs knows as cephalopods, and you may recognise them from their distinct heads and beak-like jaws. Interestingly, from birth, a young cuttlefish can display at least thirteen types of body pattern.
While cuttlefish are behaviourally sophisticated, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) scientist Jessica Mark Welch has discovered that their microbiome contains just two different kinds of bacteria. Holly Lutz, a postdoctoral scientist, also found this was the case through examining cuttlefish’s tract, gills, and skin.
Unusually, it was actually found that most of the microbes of cuttlefish are actually located in the oesophagus.
Understanding the microbiome of cuttlefish, or aquatic animals more broadly, will enable aquariums to help keep them healthy. For example, antibiotic treatment can alter an organisms microbiome, thus resulting in unintended negative impacts on the animal’s health – understanding an animal’s microbiome will help prevent this.