Episode Summary

Many organisms metamorphose from a larvae into an adult, for example a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly, but some animals require bacteria in order to undergo this transition.

This amazing bacterial-stimulated morphological transition is fairly widespread among different marine animals, like sponges, corals, and sea urchins, but in most cases it is not understood.

Dr. Nick Shikuma is an Assistant Professor at San Diego State University who studies the interaction of the bacterium Pseudoalteromonas luteoviolacea with the tubeworm Hydroides elegans.

Dr. Shikuma talks about how the bacteria produce a harpoon-like factor called a tailicin that inject larvae with the correct stimulus to allow them to develop into tubeworms, how the tailicin is related to a bacterial virus injection device, what the benefit, if any, might be to the bacteria to do this, and whether these bacteria may be present at “Dog Poop Beach”.

The microCase for listeners to solve is about Rordon Gamsey, a famous foul-mouthed chef who comes down with a gastrointestinal illness while visiting a restaurant in need of his help.


  • Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Nick Shikuma, Ph.D. (San Diego State University)
  • Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Jesus Romo, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Mylea Echazarreta (UTSA)

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