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Editorial ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.00980

Editorial: CephsInAction: Towards Future Challenges for Cephalopod Science

  • 1School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
  • 2Research, Development and Innovation, Association for Cephalopod Research “CephRes”, Italy
  • 3Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland
  • 4Center for Marine Studies, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil
  • 5University of Minnesota Duluth, United States
  • 6The University of Texas at El Paso, United States
  • 7Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italy

The collection of papers included in this Research Topic represents the outcome of one of the activities of the COST Action FA1301 – “A network for improvement of cephalopod welfare and husbandry in research, aquaculture and fisheries” (CephsInAction) – that operated for four years from 2013 and 2017. The idea of a ‘CephsInAction’ Research Topic entitled “Towards Future Challenges for Cephalopod Science” emerged at one of the last meetings of the COST Action FA1301: CephsInAction & CIAC Meeting “Cephalopod Science from Biology to Welfare“ (Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 28 – 31 March 2017), and from some editorial initiatives discussed at that meeting. This Research Topic (RT) is just one example of several RTs, and indeed other separate papers, dedicated to cephalopod molluscs (Hanke and Osorio, 2018; Ponte et al., 2018) that have been hosted by Frontiers over the last few years.

This highlighting of cephalopod science is important as it has much to offer not only the life sciences community, but also more broadly the public perception of science and its understanding and relationship with scientific endeavour. To make this contribution there are logistical challenges facing the cephalopod research community that need to be overcome. Importantly, given that cephalopod science is a relatively small, globally distributed research community, there is a need for rapid and effective mechanisms for exchange of knowledge and resources, encompassing everything from the sharing of laboratory protocols, videos, tissues and samples, and data-sets to innovation in public engagement. This also presents strategic challenges in convincing globally distributed policy makers and funders of the relevance of cephalopods in scientific advances. There are regulatory aspects too, as cephalopods are the only invertebrates whose use is regulated in Europe in a research context (e.g., Fiorito et al., 2014; Di Cristina et al., 2015; Fiorito et al., 2015), which increases the need for an integrated oversight and direction in terms of ethics and animal welfare (Ponte et al., 2019). This links to the important recognition that cephalopods are not ‘simple’ laboratory animals and that we need to understand their physiology and behaviour by intersecting studies in their natural environment with those in standardized settings such as the lab-bench. Only by a better understanding of the normal range of behaviours of distinct species of cephalopods can their welfare be improved. There is the need for better phylogenetic resolution and for more accurate field data to facilitate this.

This Research Topic also aligns with the interests of the cephalopod community in stimulating public interest in cephalopods and their artistic interpretation. This extends to a broader audience that could include chefs and gourmets , fishers and scientists looking to develop sustainable food resources. School children's natural fascination with cephalopods (e.g., Sperduti et al., 2012) can excite their interest in scientific discovery and encourage them to engage in conversations about the scientific process and what it means. The importance of such conversations cannot be underestimated in a world in which the public need to be scientifically literate as they must be equipped to make important socio-economical and political decisions facing the current condition of the world, whilst being confronted with ‘fake news', ‘alternative truths’ and when expert opinion is often derided. There is great potential for innovative schemes for public engagement that springs from the natural wonderment the cephalopods incite.

The last five years have been extremely challenging, but also very innovative for cephalopod science and have continued the outstanding tradition of biological contribution with cephalopod molluscs as key players (e.g., Keynes, 1989; De Sio, 2011; Albertin et al., 2012; Garrett and Rosenthal, 2012; Huffard, 2013; Liscovitch-Brauer et al., 2017; Marini et al., 2017; Sanchez et al., 2018). This Research Topic includes 13 papers from about 40 authors representing ten different countries, thus overlapping with the original parties that contributed to the COST FA1301. The three papers present original data and are accompanied by other ten reviews and perspective articles on various topics, as examples of the interest that humans have for these fascinating marine molluscs. This Research Topic offers a journey that spans cephalopod gastronomy (Mouritsen and Styrbæk, 2018) offering a glance at the interest among chefs and gastroscientists to explore these organisms as a counterpoint to other seafood, a look at new protein sources to replace meat from land-animal production, and a test of texture and flavor properties of cuttlefish, squid and octopus and how these provide the ground for a variety of culinary transformations. Cephalopods offer also an “OctopusEye”, a “refracted spectatorship” perspective and conceptual analysis of the film “The Love Life of the Octopus (Les Amours de la pieuvre) (1965)” (Hayward, 2019). But cephalopods are also at the boundaries between “science, art and engineering” (Nakajima et al., 2018). They are among the most enthusiastically visited animals in public aquaria, providing a way of communicating science and conservation (Marchio, 2018), and offer various “Critical Challenges Ahead” (O'Brien et al., 2018) as envisioned by three junior “researchers who have recently embarked on careers in cephalopod biology” and that provide their suggestions on a variety of topics spanning from genetics, to welfare, behavior, cognition, and neurobiology.
This volume includes studies on the effects of maternal and embryonic stress on the behaviour of offspring (Sepia officinalis, O'Brien et al., 2017), presenting evidence for age-related differences in defensive behaviors in the sepiolid Euprymna (Seehafer et al., 2018), or the development of swimming abilities of paralarvae of Doryteuthis opalescens (Vidal et al., 2018). A preliminary analysis of the expression of protocadherins in Octopus vulgaris is also included providing the ground for future analysis of the way these genes may drive neural wiring during development and in the cases of biological and neural plasticity in the adult (Styfhals et al., 2019).
Finally, several reviews are included in this Research Topic, i. examining parasites that cephalopod host, ii. raising the possibility of the existence of stem cells in cephalopod brains, iii. considering possible cases of functional and convergent evolution of neural-systems, when compared with vertebrates, and iv. overviewing the extraordinary and historically well-studied biological cases of tissue and neural regeneration (Deryckere and Seuntjens, 2018; Imperadore and Fiorito, 2018; Roumbedakis et al., 2018; Shigeno et al., 2018).
In sum, all contributions reflect a broad, interdisciplinary active and vital scientific community.

Keywords: cephalopods, Invertebrates, welfare, outreach, Communication, Neuroscience, Physiology

Received: 16 Jun 2019; Accepted: 11 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Sylvia Anton, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), France

Copyright: © 2019 Holden-Dye, Ponte, Allcock, Vidal, Nakajima, Peterson and Fiorito. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Graziano Fiorito, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Naples, 80121, Italy,