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Researchers finally figure out how octopus tastes with their arms



An octopus.

An octopus.
image: Lena Van Giesen

The octopus has eight sucker-covered arms, which can be tasted by just touching it. A team of researchers finally figured out how these cephalopods can achieve this extraordinary technique.

Octopus is a miracle in the biological world.they are Super smart, Excellent problem solver, Even a little mischief.These cephalopods have no choice but to become smart because they are forced to improve themselves immediately After birth.They even Responding to MDMA Reminiscent of the way humans respond to such pro-social drugs.

Their arms are covered with hundreds of suction cups, which is an important reason for their success, because the octopus can really taste the object just by touching them. This function is very useful when the octopus must go deep into a dark gap when searching for food or washing the seabed.The ocean is full of nasty and harmful critters, so it can be distinguished bona fide It is clearly advantageous to eat from something more harmful.

Peter Kilian, the co-author and biologist of the new study, said: “The strategies they developed to solve the problems in the surrounding environment are unique to them, and this has inspired both scientists and non-scientists. Great interest.” said a scientist at Harvard University’s Bellonuo Laboratory. “The reason people like octopuses and other cephalopods is because they are very different from most other animals.”

Despite this fascination, we still lack an understanding of the chemical and molecular basis of their tactile abilities.new the studyThe announcement on Cell today marks an important step in this direction.

The senior author of the study, Harvard University molecular biologist Nicholas Bellono (Nicholas Bellono) and his colleagues started the project by confirming the tactile abilities of octopuses. They use California two-spotted octopus (octopus) In laboratory tests, when the sucker touches the prey, it exhibits different behaviors, not something appetizing.

Octopus working on coffee cup.

Octopus working on coffee cup.
image: Lena Van Giesen

Rebecca Tarvin, a biologist from the University of California, Berkeley, took a step back and wondered at this ability and what it means for scientists when writing cutting-edge articles about cells.

“Although many of us don’t know what bats or octopuses feel, but defining the molecular mechanisms these animals use to explore the environment will help our imagination,” wrote Tavin, who has nothing to do with this new research. “These major discoveries should also stimulate our curiosity about other hidden things.”

Indeed, after confirming the taste of touch, the next step for scientists is to do this: study suckers at the molecular level. They searched for the unique sensory cells involved in this process, which led to the discovery of a unique cell population at the tip of the suction cup. These newly detected sensors are now referred to as “chemotactic receptors” because the team believes they are responsible for the ability to sense touch.

As the team demonstrated in subsequent tests, these sensors reacted to molecules that do not dissolve well in water.Because these molecules do not dissolve well, “for example, they can be found in octopus prey and [whatever the animals touch]”, Bellono said in a Harvard press release. “So, when the octopus hits a rock instead of a crab, now its arm knows,’Well, I’m touching a crab. [because] I know not only the touch, but also the smell. “

The research team also found a second cell type in the sucker: a group of mechanosensory cells. These cells convert mechanical stimuli into signals that the brain can understand as touch and other sensations.

As the author explained, octopus chemotactic receptors can detect and distinguish different chemical signals. Chemically sensitive receptors form discrete ion channel complexes that can absorb specific signals and then transmit electrical signals to the octopus’s nervous system, which is interpreted as taste.

Bellono said: “This is important because it can complicate the octopus’s senses and can also use its semi-autonomous arm nervous system to process a series of signals to produce complex behaviors.”

Importantly, the distributed nervous system of the octopus makes this unique signal filtering system possible, in which the arm can function independently of the brain. About two-thirds of the octopus neurons are in their arms, which is why the severed arm can still try to reach out and grab things.Disturbing, but real.

The authors of the study wrote: “These findings indicate that the nervous system around the octopus is a key part of signal processing, and highlights how molecular and anatomical features co-evolve to adapt to the animal’s environment.”

The new study also shows that octopus receptors are sensitive to terpenoids, which are chemical warning shots issued by many marine animals when they are threatened. In nature, an octopus that suddenly touches terpenoid food may retreat because it is a potential sign of poisonous prey.

“…An impressive series of experiments [the authors] “Through these two cell types, we can prove that the octopus sucker can generate fine-tuned electrical signals that may distinguish between stationary and moving objects, as well as attractive and disgusting substances.” Tarvin wrote.

The authors suspect that terpenoids are one of many other unknown compounds that can stimulate octopus chemotaxis receptors, and they suggest further research in this area. In addition, they want to know whether other cephalopods (such as squid and squid) have similar tactile functions.

“Overall, these findings are an exciting leap in describing the chemotaxis sensory system of octopuses, and will raise many new questions about the neurobiology, evolutionary ecology, and behavior of these interesting animals,” Tarvin said.

Indeed, this new research will receive the attention of evolutionary biologists, who now must first figure out how the taste of touch is produced. As a possible clue, this may be a classic case of form matching function, in which the octopus’s body plan ultimately led to this ability. However, the opposite may also be true, because touch functions will eventually lead to lengthy exploratory appendages. Maybe this is a combination of the two. Fortunately, this is not a problem I want to solve, I can let the scientists solve it by themselves.

Correction at 11:27 am Eastern Time: As the reader points out, octopuses have arms, not tentacles. This article is deleted from all references to Tentacle.


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