• Dhruvi Gohil

Bioluminescence-The Glowing Phenomenon

Isn't it amazing to watch a blue seashore at night or watch mushrooms glow in the forest along with fireflies hovering around creating a magical environment? All of these are because of bioluminescence.


The emission of light by living organisms is known as bioluminescence. Marine organisms, fireflies, arthropods, and many other organisms including fungi exhibit the phenomenon of bioluminescence.



How do they do it?

The compounds involved in the glowing of these organisms are:

1Luciferin-substrate

2.Luciferase-Enzyme

3.Reductase-Enzyme

4.Photons

5.Oxygen- as an oxidizer

6.ATP-for energy

A compound named oxyluciferin releases an oxygen molecule and while returning to the ground state, it emits lights. This was analyzed using the techniques of mass spectroscopy and High-performance liquid chromatography(HPLC).

When the sun sets, luciferin and reductase are at their highest due to changes in ambient temperature, which cause light to be emitted.


Bioluminescence on land:

A few land organisms showing the emission of light are listed below.


1.Fireflies:

Fireflies are members of the Lampyridae tribe, which includes over 2,000 species. The amount of light emitted by each species varies. Unlike a light bulb, they do not contain the heat when displaying bioluminescence, so the light they emit is known as cold light. They have a yellow to orange hue to them. It's easy to spot them in woods and gardens.

They use bioluminescence to attract a mate. Female bees are attracted to male bees, and females prefer the male based on the pattern and intensity of light emission. They do that to avoid predators as well.

2.Fungi:

Roridomyces roridus, Gerronema viridilucens, and Mycena luxaeterna are some examples of fungi that produce bioluminescence by emitting light with a wavelength of 520 to 530 nm (greenish light). Bioluminescence may occur in spores(fruiting bodies) or mycelium(roots) of fungi.

Some fungi rely on spores for reproduction, and dispersing their spores can be accomplished by attracting insects, which contributes to further fungus colonization. There are certain species of fungus which form an underground network and exhibit bioluminescence in permanent darkness, yet the reason for these fungal species' action is not known.

3.Milipedes and centipedes :

Millipedes and centipedes' exoskeletons emit light with a wavelength of about 495nm. This behavior is seen by these species as a signal to predators. Some animals, such as Motyxia, use bioluminescence to alert predators that their bodies contain cyanide.


Bioluminescence in Ocean:

A few sea organisms showing bioluminescence are as follows.


1.Phytoplanktons and zooplanktons:

The phytoplankton and Zooplankton, which emit blue light to confuse predators, are primarily responsible for the blue tide. They also serve as an alarm mechanism for other fishes, and they may be able to assist other large fishes. The whale, for example, does not eat phytoplankton, but instead approaches its region when smaller fishes approach to eat it; in this way, fishes get food and the food chain continues.

2.Fishes, squids, and octopus:

There are approximately 1,200 species of fish that exhibit this behavior, including hatchet fish, lantern fish, and angler fish, which use the bait on its head to find food. Since there is no light deep under the water, most deep-sea fishes show it. They mostly emit blue light because no red light enters the oceans. Squid organs are known as photophores because they are the organs that squids use for emitting light.


This phenomenon is used by marine animals to alert predators, bait their prey, communicate, and protect their territories, all of which helps to keep the food chain in the sea afloat.


Until next time, keep radiating like the bioluminescent beings.



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