“But the strange thing is, as you get closer to them, you realize that you are very similar in many ways.”
One of the ways octopus is both familiar and unfamiliar is when they wrap their long arm around prey or another object, they both touch it (familiar) and taste it (not very familiar).
According to a new study published in the journal Cell, scientists are now looking at how octopus use the feeling of “taste touch”, activating the sensory receptors on their sucking sensation that are eight in length. their arms.
The research provides new insight into how organisms use their flexible long tentacles to explain both danger and joy in the waters around them.
“They are always exploring their environment. They̵7;re just a big muscle mass,” said Nick Bellono, an assistant professor of molecular and cell biology at Harvard University and lead author of the study.
The study follows previous work on octopus, in which other researchers looked at their absorbent hair cells under a microscope and found sensory cells comparable to cells that were Found in the nose or on the tongue of terrestrial mammals. Taste abilities may have evolved in octopus to accommodate a wide range of possible activities.
“Maybe it’s using taste to explore,” says Bellono.
Blood-sucking octopus has tasting cells
To find out how octopus taste food and surroundings, the team studied two female bipedal octopus in California, which were caught in the wild. In their labs, they keep the organisms in separate tanks (since octopus are solitary animals), assisting them to eat crabs on a daily basis.
This species has an average length of about 18 inches and lives in the Pacific along the northern California coast south to Mexico, according to California Sea Grant, a partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, State California and universities. The bipedal octopus feeds on smaller crustaceans and mollusks and their natural predators are sea lions, harbor seals, sea eels, and humans.
Bellono and his team determined that these octopus possessed sensory cells. When kept in seawater tanks, the octopus will expand their tentacles to grab objects through a hole in the tank wall. When they find prey, such as a crab, they put their arms around and bring it closer.
If they grasp an inanimate object, they let go of it and continue to search around using the sweeping motion of their arm.
The researchers extracted and isolated groups of their aspiration cells, without injuring the animals, to see the activity of the proteins the cells made. They performed experiments to see how proteins from the chemical receptor cells react to predatory octopus cell extracts.
“They responded stereotype,” said Bellono. “Those proteins react to those stimuli in the same way as a sensory cell.”
It is known that the particles easily move through the air before they can be sniffed into the nostrils of a bear or wolf. However, the process of smelling or tasting is less obvious in cephalopods – a group of molluscs including octopus, squid and cuttlefish – that live in the ocean. That’s especially true when the particles give off a scent that doesn’t dissolve easily in water, says Bellono.
While humans tend to perceive the five basic flavors – sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and umami (meaty) – the octopus experiences a different world of flavors.
Instead, they have found the most success in provoking the octopus to respond to what are known as terpenoid molecules, often secreted by marine invertebrates, as a defense or ornamental signal. newspaper. They smell these molecules, and in a way, they can sense fear in their prey.
These sensations could also be a way to warn the octopus that something it is tasting might be poisonous, the waiters said.
The terpenoid molecules are insoluble in water, so the octopus cannot sit and wait for the odors and flavors to wash or flow to them. That is why they need to directly capture certain audience in order to get the taste.
It is also possible that the octopus can sense different types of stimuli in addition to terpenoid molecules, says Bellono.
But the octopus’s chemical receptors don’t react to most odorants or flavors like humans do. Researchers have received a response from a compound, chloroquine, that has a bitter taste in humans.
A follow-up study the team wants to pursue will involve looking at molecules rejected by predators for octopus. Or you can look at the squid to see if their arms used to grab prey have a similar taste.
Bellono, whose lab is very interested in studying how organisms adapt to their environment, explains that the research builds on the team’s recent research on the basic physiology of birth. marine animals.
Those questions include exploring why jellyfish choose to burn their prey and how the sea slugs photosynthesize for energy.
“We explore basic science because we never know what we’ll find or why it will be useful,” he said. “I hope this study is just a good example of discovering your curiosity and seeing what you find.”