Bioluminescence

Bioluminescence

Overview

Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light
Light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

 by a living organism
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

. Its name is a hybrid word
Hybrid word
A hybrid word is a word which etymologically has one part derived from one language and another part derived from a different language.-Common hybrids:The most common form of hybrid word in English is one which combines etymologically Latin and Greek parts...

, originating from the Greek bios for "living" and the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 lumen "light". Bioluminescence is a naturally occurring form of chemiluminescence where energy is released by a chemical reaction in the form of light emission. Fireflies
Firefly
Lampyridae is a family of insects in the beetle order Coleoptera. They are winged beetles, and commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous crepuscular use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies...

, anglerfish
Anglerfish
Anglerfishes are members of the teleost order Lophiiformes . They are bony fishes named for their characteristic mode of predation, wherein a fleshy growth from the fish's head acts as a lure; this is considered analogous to angling.Some anglerfishes are pelagic , while others are benthic...

, and other creatures produce the chemicals luciferin
Luciferin
Luciferins are a class of light-emitting biological pigments found in organisms that cause bioluminescence...

 (a pigment
Pigment
A pigment is a material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption. This physical process differs from fluorescence, phosphorescence, and other forms of luminescence, in which a material emits light.Many materials selectively absorb...

) and luciferase
Luciferase
Luciferase is a generic term for the class of oxidative enzymes used in bioluminescence and is distinct from a photoprotein. One famous example is the firefly luciferase from the firefly Photinus pyralis. "Firefly luciferase" as a laboratory reagent usually refers to P...

 (an enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

).
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Encyclopedia

Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light
Light
Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light has wavelength in a range from about 380 nanometres to about 740 nm, with a frequency range of about 405 THz to 790 THz...

 by a living organism
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

. Its name is a hybrid word
Hybrid word
A hybrid word is a word which etymologically has one part derived from one language and another part derived from a different language.-Common hybrids:The most common form of hybrid word in English is one which combines etymologically Latin and Greek parts...

, originating from the Greek bios for "living" and the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 lumen "light". Bioluminescence is a naturally occurring form of chemiluminescence where energy is released by a chemical reaction in the form of light emission. Fireflies
Firefly
Lampyridae is a family of insects in the beetle order Coleoptera. They are winged beetles, and commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous crepuscular use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies...

, anglerfish
Anglerfish
Anglerfishes are members of the teleost order Lophiiformes . They are bony fishes named for their characteristic mode of predation, wherein a fleshy growth from the fish's head acts as a lure; this is considered analogous to angling.Some anglerfishes are pelagic , while others are benthic...

, and other creatures produce the chemicals luciferin
Luciferin
Luciferins are a class of light-emitting biological pigments found in organisms that cause bioluminescence...

 (a pigment
Pigment
A pigment is a material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption. This physical process differs from fluorescence, phosphorescence, and other forms of luminescence, in which a material emits light.Many materials selectively absorb...

) and luciferase
Luciferase
Luciferase is a generic term for the class of oxidative enzymes used in bioluminescence and is distinct from a photoprotein. One famous example is the firefly luciferase from the firefly Photinus pyralis. "Firefly luciferase" as a laboratory reagent usually refers to P...

 (an enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

). The luciferin reacts with oxygen
Oxygen
Oxygen is the element with atomic number 8 and represented by the symbol O. Its name derives from the Greek roots ὀξύς and -γενής , because at the time of naming, it was mistakenly thought that all acids required oxygen in their composition...

 to create light. The luciferase acts as a catalyst to speed up the reaction, which is sometimes mediated by cofactors such as calcium
Calcium
Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

 ions or ATP
Adenosine triphosphate
Adenosine-5'-triphosphate is a multifunctional nucleoside triphosphate used in cells as a coenzyme. It is often called the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy transfer. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism...

. The chemical reaction can occur either inside or outside the cell. In bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

, the expression of gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

s related to bioluminescence is controlled by an operon
Operon
In genetics, an operon is a functioning unit of genomic DNA containing a cluster of genes under the control of a single regulatory signal or promoter. The genes are transcribed together into an mRNA strand and either translated together in the cytoplasm, or undergo trans-splicing to create...

 called the Lux operon.

Bioluminescence occurs in marine vertebrate
Vertebrate
Vertebrates are animals that are members of the subphylum Vertebrata . Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with currently about 58,000 species described. Vertebrates include the jawless fishes, bony fishes, sharks and rays, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds...

s and invertebrate
Invertebrate
An invertebrate is an animal without a backbone. The group includes 97% of all animal species – all animals except those in the chordate subphylum Vertebrata .Invertebrates form a paraphyletic group...

s, as well as microorganisms and terrestrial animals. Symbiotic organisms carried within larger organisms are also known to bioluminesce.

Characteristics


Bioluminescence is a form of luminescence
Luminescence
Luminescence is emission of light by a substance not resulting from heat; it is thus a form of cold body radiation. It can be caused by chemical reactions, electrical energy, subatomic motions, or stress on a crystal. This distinguishes luminescence from incandescence, which is light emitted by a...

, or "cold light" emission; less than 20% of the light generates thermal radiation
Thermal radiation
Thermal radiation is electromagnetic radiation generated by the thermal motion of charged particles in matter. All matter with a temperature greater than absolute zero emits thermal radiation....

. It should not be confused with fluorescence
Fluorescence
Fluorescence is the emission of light by a substance that has absorbed light or other electromagnetic radiation of a different wavelength. It is a form of luminescence. In most cases, emitted light has a longer wavelength, and therefore lower energy, than the absorbed radiation...

, phosphorescence
Phosphorescence
Phosphorescence is a specific type of photoluminescence related to fluorescence. Unlike fluorescence, a phosphorescent material does not immediately re-emit the radiation it absorbs. The slower time scales of the re-emission are associated with "forbidden" energy state transitions in quantum...

 or refraction
Refraction
Refraction is the change in direction of a wave due to a change in its speed. It is essentially a surface phenomenon . The phenomenon is mainly in governance to the law of conservation of energy. The proper explanation would be that due to change of medium, the phase velocity of the wave is changed...

 of light.

Ninety percent of deep-sea marine life
Deep sea creature
The term deep sea creature refers to organisms that live below the photic zone of the ocean. These creatures must survive in extremely harsh conditions, such as hundreds of atmospheres of pressure, small amounts of oxygen, very little food, no sunlight, and constant, extreme cold...

 are estimated to produce bioluminescence in one form or another. Most marine light-emission belongs in the blue
Blue
Blue is a colour, the perception of which is evoked by light having a spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 440–490 nm. It is considered one of the additive primary colours. On the HSV Colour Wheel, the complement of blue is yellow; that is, a colour corresponding to an equal...

 and green
Green
Green is a color, the perception of which is evoked by light having a spectrum dominated by energy with a wavelength of roughly 520–570 nanometres. In the subtractive color system, it is not a primary color, but is created out of a mixture of yellow and blue, or yellow and cyan; it is considered...

 light spectrum
Electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy that exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space...

, the wavelengths that can transmit through the seawater
Seawater
Seawater is water from a sea or ocean. On average, seawater in the world's oceans has a salinity of about 3.5% . This means that every kilogram of seawater has approximately of dissolved salts . The average density of seawater at the ocean surface is 1.025 g/ml...

 most easily. However, certain loose-jawed fishes emit red
Red
Red is any of a number of similar colors evoked by light consisting predominantly of the longest wavelengths of light discernible by the human eye, in the wavelength range of roughly 630–740 nm. Longer wavelengths than this are called infrared , and cannot be seen by the naked eye...

 and infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

 light and the genus Tomopteris
Tomopteris
Tomopteris is a genus of marine planktonic polychaete. If disturbed, some species are known to make a flurry of glowing sparks erupt from their parapodia. One species, Tomopteris nisseni, is one of the few marine creatures with yellow bioluminescence....

emits yellow
Yellow
Yellow is the color evoked by light that stimulates both the L and M cone cells of the retina about equally, with no significant stimulation of the S cone cells. Light with a wavelength of 570–590 nm is yellow, as is light with a suitable mixture of red and green...

 bioluminescence.

Non-marine bioluminescence is less widely distributed, but a larger variety in colours is seen. The two best-known forms of land bioluminescence are fireflies
Firefly
Lampyridae is a family of insects in the beetle order Coleoptera. They are winged beetles, and commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous crepuscular use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies...

 and glow worms
Phengodidae
The beetle family Phengodidae is known also as glowworm beetles, whose larvae are known as glowworms. The females and larvae have bioluminescent organs. They occur throughout the New World from extreme southern Canada to Chile...

. Other insect
Insect
Insects are a class of living creatures within the arthropods that have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body , three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes, and two antennae...

s, insect larva
Larva
A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle...

e, annelid
Annelid
The annelids , formally called Annelida , are a large phylum of segmented worms, with over 17,000 modern species including ragworms, earthworms and leeches...

s, arachnid
Arachnid
Arachnids are a class of joint-legged invertebrate animals in the subphylum Chelicerata. All arachnids have eight legs, although in some species the front pair may convert to a sensory function. The term is derived from the Greek words , meaning "spider".Almost all extant arachnids are terrestrial...

s and even species of fungi
Fungus
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

 have been noted to possess bioluminescent abilities.

Some forms of bioluminescence are brighter (or only exist) at night, following a circadian rhythm
Circadian rhythm
A circadian rhythm, popularly referred to as body clock, is an endogenously driven , roughly 24-hour cycle in biochemical, physiological, or behavioural processes. Circadian rhythms have been widely observed in plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria...

.

Counterillumination camouflage


In some squid
Squid
Squid are cephalopods of the order Teuthida, which comprises around 300 species. Like all other cephalopods, squid have a distinct head, bilateral symmetry, a mantle, and arms. Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs and two, usually longer, tentacles...

 species bacterial bioluminescence is used for counterillumination so the animal matches the overhead environmental light seen from below. In these animals, photoreceptive vesicles have been found that control the contrast of this illumination to create optimal matching. Usually these light organs are separate from the tissue containing the bioluminescent bacteria. However, in one species Euprymna scolopes these bacteria make up an integral component of the animal's light organ.

Attraction



Bioluminescence is used as a lure
Lure
Lure can refer to:* Lure * Lure coursing, a sport for dogs that involves chasing a mechanically operated lure* Fishing lure* Lur, an instrument found in northern Europe* Lure, Haute-Saône, a commune of the Haute-Saône département, in France...

 to attract prey by several deep sea fish
Deep sea fish
Deep sea fish is a term for any fish that lives below the photic zone of the ocean. The lanternfish is, by far, the most common deep sea fish. Other deep sea fish include the flashlight fish, cookiecutter shark, bristlemouths, anglerfish, and viperfish....

 such as the anglerfish
Anglerfish
Anglerfishes are members of the teleost order Lophiiformes . They are bony fishes named for their characteristic mode of predation, wherein a fleshy growth from the fish's head acts as a lure; this is considered analogous to angling.Some anglerfishes are pelagic , while others are benthic...

. A dangling appendage
Appendage
In invertebrate biology, an appendage is an external body part, or natural prolongation, that protrudes from an organism's body . It is a general term that covers any of the homologous body parts that may extend from a body segment...

 that extends from the head of the fish attracts small animals to within striking distance of the fish. Some fish, however, use a non-bioluminescent lure.

The cookiecutter shark
Cookiecutter shark
The cookiecutter shark , also called the cigar shark, is a species of small dogfish shark in the family Dalatiidae. This shark occurs in warm, oceanic waters worldwide, particularly near islands, and has been recorded from as deep as . It migrates vertically up to every day, approaching the...

 uses bioluminescence for camouflage, but a small patch on its underbelly remains dark and appears as a small fish to large predatory fish like tuna
Tuna
Tuna is a salt water fish from the family Scombridae, mostly in the genus Thunnus. Tuna are fast swimmers, and some species are capable of speeds of . Unlike most fish, which have white flesh, the muscle tissue of tuna ranges from pink to dark red. The red coloration derives from myoglobin, an...

 and mackerel
Mackerel
Mackerel is a common name applied to a number of different species of fish, mostly, but not exclusively, from the family Scombridae. They may be found in all tropical and temperate seas. Most live offshore in the oceanic environment but a few, like the Spanish mackerel , enter bays and can be...

 swimming beneath it. When these fish try to consume the "small fish", they are bitten by the shark, which gouges out small circular "cookie cutter" shaped chunks of flesh from its hosts.

Dinoflagellate
Dinoflagellate
The dinoflagellates are a large group of flagellate protists. Most are marine plankton, but they are common in fresh water habitats as well. Their populations are distributed depending on temperature, salinity, or depth...

s have an interesting twist on this mechanism. When a predator of plankton
Plankton
Plankton are any drifting organisms that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification...

 is sensed through motion in the water, the dinoflagellate luminesces. This in turn attracts even larger predators which will consume the would-be predator of the dinoflagellate.

The attraction of mates
Mating
In biology, mating is the pairing of opposite-sex or hermaphroditic organisms for copulation. In social animals, it also includes the raising of their offspring. Copulation is the union of the sex organs of two sexually reproducing animals for insemination and subsequent internal fertilization...

 is another proposed mechanism of bioluminescent action. This is seen actively in fireflies
Firefly
Lampyridae is a family of insects in the beetle order Coleoptera. They are winged beetles, and commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous crepuscular use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies...

, which use periodic flashing in their abdomens to attract mates in the mating season. In the marine environment this has only been well documented in certain small crustaceans called ostracod. It has been suggested that pheromone
Pheromone
A pheromone is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual...

s may be used for long-distance communication, and bioluminescence used at close range to "home in" on the target.

Repulsion



Certain squid
Squid
Squid are cephalopods of the order Teuthida, which comprises around 300 species. Like all other cephalopods, squid have a distinct head, bilateral symmetry, a mantle, and arms. Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs and two, usually longer, tentacles...

 and small crustacean
Crustacean
Crustaceans form a very large group of arthropods, usually treated as a subphylum, which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles. The 50,000 described species range in size from Stygotantulus stocki at , to the Japanese spider crab with a leg span...

s use bioluminescent chemical mixtures or bioluminescent bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

l slurries in the same way as many squid use ink
Cephalopod ink
Cephalopod ink is a dark pigment released into water by most species of cephalopod, usually as an escape mechanism. All cephalopods, with the exception of the Nautilidae and the species of octopus belonging to the suborder Cirrina, are able to release ink....

. A cloud of luminescence is expelled, confusing or repelling a potential predator while the squid or crustacean escapes to safety. Every species of firefly has larvae that glow to repel predators.

Communication


Communication between bacteria (quorum sensing) plays a role in the regulation of luminesence in many bacterial species. Using small extracellularly secreted molecules, they are able to adapt their behavior to only turn on genes for light production when they are at high cell densities.

Illumination


While most marine bioluminescence is green to blue, the Black Dragonfish
Stomiidae
Stomiidae is a family of deep-sea ray-finned fish, including the barbeled dragonfishes, stareaters and loosejaws.Stomiids are generally elongated fish with black or near-black bodies, but they are highly variable in form, and are sometimes grouped into multiple different families as a result. The...

 produces a red glow. This adaptation allows the fish to see red-pigmented prey, which are normally invisible in the deep ocean environment where red light has been filtered out by the water column.

Biotechnology



Bioluminescent organisms are a target for many areas of research. Luciferase systems are widely used in the field of genetic engineering
Genetic engineering
Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, is the direct human manipulation of an organism's genome using modern DNA technology. It involves the introduction of foreign DNA or synthetic genes into the organism of interest...

 as reporter gene
Reporter gene
In molecular biology, a reporter gene is a gene that researchers attach to a regulatory sequence of another gene of interest in cell culture, animals or plants. Certain genes are chosen as reporters because the characteristics they confer on organisms expressing them are easily identified and...

s. Luciferase systems have also been harnessed for biomedical research using bioluminescence imaging
Bioluminescence imaging
Bioluminescence imaging is a technology developed over the past decade that allows for the noninvasive study of ongoing biological processes in small laboratory animals. Recently, bioluminescence tomography has become possible and several systems have become commercially...

.

Vibrio
Vibrio
Vibrio is a genus of Gram-negative bacteria possessing a curved rod shape, several species of which can cause foodborne infection, usually associated with eating undercooked seafood. Typically found in saltwater, Vibrio are facultative anaerobes that test positive for oxidase and do not form...

symbiosis with numerous marine invertebrates
Marine invertebrates
Marine invertebrates are animals that inhabit a marine environment and are invertebrates, lacking a vertebral column. In order to protect themselves, they may have evolved a shell or a hard exoskeleton, but this is not always the case....

 and fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, namely the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid
Hawaiian Bobtail Squid
Euprymna scolopes, also known as the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid, is a species of bobtail squid in the family Sepiolidae. It is native to the central Pacific Ocean, where it occurs in shallow coastal waters off the Hawaiian Islands and Midway Island...

 (Euprymna scolopes), are key experimental models
Model organism
A model organism is a non-human species that is extensively studied to understand particular biological phenomena, with the expectation that discoveries made in the organism model will provide insight into the workings of other organisms. Model organisms are in vivo models and are widely used to...

 for symbiosis
Symbiosis
Symbiosis is close and often long-term interaction between different biological species. In 1877 Bennett used the word symbiosis to describe the mutualistic relationship in lichens...

, quorum sensing
Quorum sensing
Quorum sensing is a system of stimulus and response correlated to population density. Many species of bacteria use quorum sensing to coordinate gene expression according to the density of their local population. In similar fashion, some social insects use quorum sensing to determine where to nest...

, and bioluminescence.

The structures of photophore
Photophore
A photophore is a light-emitting organ which appears as luminous spots on various marine animals, including fish and cephalopods. The organ can be simple, or as complex as the human eye; equipped with lenses, shutters, color filters and reflectors...

s, the light producing organs in bioluminescent organisms, are being investigated by industrial design
Industrial design
Industrial design is the use of a combination of applied art and applied science to improve the aesthetics, ergonomics, and usability of a product, but it may also be used to improve the product's marketability and production...

ers.

Proposed applications of engineered bioluminescence


Some proposed applications of engineered bioluminescence include:
  • Glowing trees to line highway
    Highway
    A highway is any public road. In American English, the term is common and almost always designates major roads. In British English, the term designates any road open to the public. Any interconnected set of highways can be variously referred to as a "highway system", a "highway network", or a...

    s to save government electricity
    Electricity
    Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

     bills
  • Christmas tree
    Christmas tree
    The Christmas tree is a decorated evergreen coniferous tree, real or artificial, and a tradition associated with the celebration of Christmas. The tradition of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmas started in Livonia and Germany in the 16th century...

    s that do not need lights, reducing danger from electrical fires
  • Agricultural
    Agriculture
    Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

     crops and domestic plants that luminesce when they need watering
  • New methods for detecting bacterial contamination of meats and other foods
  • Bio-identifiers for escaped convicts and mental patients
  • Detecting bacterial species in suspicious corpses
  • Novelty pets that bioluminesce (rabbit
    Rabbit
    Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world...

    s, mice
    Mouse
    A mouse is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse . It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. This rodent is eaten by large birds such as hawks and eagles...

    , fish
    Fish
    Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

     etc.)

Bioluminescent organisms





All cells produce some form of bioluminescence within the electromagnetic spectrum, but most are neither visible nor noticeable to the naked eye. Every organism's bioluminescence is unique in wavelength, duration, timing and regularity of flashes. Below follows a list of organisms which have been observed to have visible bioluminescence.

Terrestrial organisms


Animals:
  • certain arthropod
    Arthropod
    An arthropod is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton , a segmented body, and jointed appendages. Arthropods are members of the phylum Arthropoda , and include the insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and others...

    s
    • fireflies
      Firefly
      Lampyridae is a family of insects in the beetle order Coleoptera. They are winged beetles, and commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous crepuscular use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a "cold light", with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies...

    • click beetle
      Click beetle
      The family Elateridae is commonly called click beetles , elaters, snapping beetles, spring beetles or "skipjacks". They are a cosmopolitan beetle family characterized by the unusual click mechanism they possess...

      s
    • glow worms
      Glowworm
      Glowworm, or glow worm, is the common name for various groups of insect larvae and adult larviform females that glow through bioluminescence. They may sometimes resemble worms, but all are insects .-Classification:Major families are:* Lampyridae , found around the world...

      • railroad worm
        Railroad worm
        A railroad worm is a larva or larviform female adult of a beetle of the genus Phrixothrix in the family Phengodidae, characterized by their unique possession of two different colors of bioluminescence...

        s
    • certain mycetophilid
      Mycetophilidae
      Mycetophilidae is a family of small flies, forming the bulk of those species known as fungus gnats. There are approximately 3000 described species in 150 genera but the true number of species is undoubtedly much higher...

       flies
      Fly
      True flies are insects of the order Diptera . They possess a pair of wings on the mesothorax and a pair of halteres, derived from the hind wings, on the metathorax...

    • certain centipede
      Centipede
      Centipedes are arthropods belonging to the class Chilopoda of the subphylum Myriapoda. They are elongated metameric animals with one pair of legs per body segment. Despite the name, centipedes can have a varying number of legs from under 20 to over 300. Centipedes have an odd number of pairs of...

      s such as Geophilus carpophagus
    • certain millipede
      Millipede
      Millipedes are arthropods that have two pairs of legs per segment . Each segment that has two pairs of legs is a result of two single segments fused together as one...

      s such as Motyxia
      Motyxia
      Motyxia, or the Sierra luminous millipedes, is a genus of cyanide-producing millipedes in the order Polydesmida endemic to the southern Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi, and Santa Monica mountain ranges of California. Members of this genus are blind and produce cyanide...

  • a terrestrial mollusc (a tropical land snail
    Snail
    Snail is a common name applied to most of the members of the molluscan class Gastropoda that have coiled shells in the adult stage. When the word is used in its most general sense, it includes sea snails, land snails and freshwater snails. The word snail without any qualifier is however more often...

    )
    • Quantula striata
      Quantula striata
      Quantula striata, also known as Dyakia striata, is a species of medium-sized, air-breathing, tropical land snail. It is a terrestrial, pulmonate, gastropod mollusk in the family Dyakiidae. This species appears to be unique among terrestrial gastropods in that it is bioluminescent: Its eggs glow in...

  • annelid
    Annelid
    The annelids , formally called Annelida , are a large phylum of segmented worms, with over 17,000 modern species including ragworms, earthworms and leeches...

    s

Fungi:
  • Mushroom
    Mushroom
    A mushroom is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source. The standard for the name "mushroom" is the cultivated white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus; hence the word "mushroom" is most often applied to those fungi that...

    s (see Foxfire
    Foxfire (bioluminescence)
    Foxfire, also sometimes referred to as "fairy fire", is the bioluminescence created by some species of fungi present in decaying wood. The bluish green glow is attributed to luciferase, an oxidizing agent, which emits light as it reacts with luciferin...

    )
    • Jack O'Lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olearius)
    • ghost fungus (Omphalotus nidiformis
      Omphalotus nidiformis
      Omphalotus nidiformis, or ghost fungus, is a gilled basidiomycete mushroom found in southern Australia most notable for its bioluminescent properties. Generally found growing on dead or dying trees, it is saprotroph and parasite....

      )
    • Honey mushroom
    • Panellus stipticus
      Panellus stipticus
      Panellus stipticus, commonly known as the bitter oyster, the astringent panus, the luminescent panellus, or the stiptic fungus, is a species of fungus in the Mycenaceae family, and the type species of the genus Panellus...

    • several species of Mycena
      Mycena
      Mycena is a large genus of small saprotrophic mushrooms that are rarely more than a few centimeters in width. They are characterized by a white spore print, a small conical or bell-shaped cap, and a thin fragile stem. Most are gray or brown, but a few species have brighter colors. Most have a...


Fish

  • Anglerfish
    Anglerfish
    Anglerfishes are members of the teleost order Lophiiformes . They are bony fishes named for their characteristic mode of predation, wherein a fleshy growth from the fish's head acts as a lure; this is considered analogous to angling.Some anglerfishes are pelagic , while others are benthic...

  • Cookie-cutter shark
  • Flashlight fish
    Flashlight fish
    The flashlight fish are a family, the Anomalopidae, of beryciform fish. There are some unrelated fish with similar features, some of which are also called flashlight fish. Notable among these are the deep sea lanternfish, of the family Myctophidae, of which there are over 200 species.Flashlight...

  • Gulper eel
  • Lanternfish
    Lanternfish
    Cooper Lanternfishes are small mesopelagic fish of the large family Myctophidae. One of two families in the order Myctophiformes, the Myctophidae are represented by 246 species in 33 genera, and are found in oceans worldwide. They are aptly named after their conspicuous use of bioluminescence...

  • Marine hatchetfish
    Marine hatchetfish
    Marine hatchetfishes or deep-sea hatchetfishes are small deep-sea mesopelagic ray-finned fish of the stomiiform subfamily Sternoptychinae...

  • Midshipman fish
    Midshipman fish
    The midshipman fishes are the genus Porichthys of toadfishes. They are distinguished by having photophores and four lateral lines...

  • Pineconefish
  • Viperfish
    Viperfish
    A viperfish is a saltwater fish in the genus Chauliodus, with long, needle-like teeth and hinged lower jaws. They grow to lengths of 30 to 60 cm . Viperfish stay near lower depths in the daytime and shallow at night. Viperfish mainly stay in tropical and temperate waters...


Marine invertebrates

  • many cnidarians
    • Sea pen
      Sea pen
      Sea pens are colonial marine cnidarians belonging to the order Pennatulacea. There are 14 families within the order; they are thought to have a cosmopolitan distribution in tropical and temperate waters worldwide...

      s
    • coral
      Coral
      Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.A coral "head" is a colony of...

    • Aequorea victoria
      Aequorea victoria
      Aequorea victoria, also sometimes called the crystal jelly, is a bioluminescent hydrozoan jellyfish, or hydromedusa, that is found off the west coast of North America. This species is thought to be synonymous with Aequorea aequorea of Osamu Shimomura, the discoverer of green fluorescent protein . ...

      , a jellyfish
      Jellyfish
      Jellyfish are free-swimming members of the phylum Cnidaria. Medusa is another word for jellyfish, and refers to any free-swimming jellyfish stages in the phylum Cnidaria...

  • certain Ctenophore
    Ctenophore
    The Ctenophora are a phylum of animals that live in marine waters worldwide. Their most distinctive feature is the "combs", groups of cilia that they use for swimming, and they are the largest animals that swim by means of cilia – adults of various species range from a few millimeters to in size...

    s or "comb jellies"
  • certain echinoderm
    Echinoderm
    Echinoderms are a phylum of marine animals. Echinoderms are found at every ocean depth, from the intertidal zone to the abyssal zone....

    s (e.g. Ophiurida
    Ophiurida
    The Ophiurida are an order of echinoderms within the class Ophiuroidea. It includes the vast majority of living brittle stars.-Characteristics:The upper surface of the disk of Ophiurida is covered with scales....

    )
  • certain crustacean
    Crustacean
    Crustaceans form a very large group of arthropods, usually treated as a subphylum, which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill and barnacles. The 50,000 described species range in size from Stygotantulus stocki at , to the Japanese spider crab with a leg span...

    s
    • ostracod
      Ostracod
      Ostracoda is a class of the Crustacea, sometimes known as the seed shrimp because of their appearance. Some 65,000 species have been identified, grouped into several orders....

      s
    • copepod
      Copepod
      Copepods are a group of small crustaceans found in the sea and nearly every freshwater habitat. Some species are planktonic , some are benthic , and some continental species may live in limno-terrestrial habitats and other wet terrestrial places, such as swamps, under leaf fall in wet forests,...

      s
    • krill
      Krill
      Krill is the common name given to the order Euphausiacea of shrimp-like marine crustaceans. Also known as euphausiids, these small invertebrates are found in all oceans of the world...

  • certain chaetognaths
  • certain molluscs
    • certain clam
      Clam
      The word "clam" can be applied to freshwater mussels, and other freshwater bivalves, as well as marine bivalves.In the United States, "clam" can be used in several different ways: one, as a general term covering all bivalve molluscs...

      s, bivalves
    • certain nudibranch
      Nudibranch
      A nudibranch is a member of what is now a taxonomic clade, and what was previously a suborder, of soft-bodied, marine gastropod mollusks which shed their shell after their larval stage. They are noted for their often extraordinary colors and striking forms...

      s, sea slugs
    • Octopus
      Octopus
      The octopus is a cephalopod mollusc of the order Octopoda. Octopuses have two eyes and four pairs of arms, and like other cephalopods they are bilaterally symmetric. An octopus has a hard beak, with its mouth at the center point of the arms...

      • Bolitaenidae
        Bolitaenidae
        Bolitaenidae is a family of small, common pelagic octopuses found in all tropical and temperate oceans of the world. The family's taxonomy is not entirely certain; recent research suggests there should be just two genera, Bolitaena and Japetella, both of which are thought to be monotypic...

    • the order Teuthida
      • Colossal Squid
        Colossal Squid
        The colossal squid , sometimes called the Antarctic or giant cranch squid, is believed to be the largest squid species in terms of mass. It is the only known member of the genus Mesonychoteuthis...

      • Mastigoteuthidae
      • Sepiolidae
        Sepiolidae
        Sepiolidae is a family of bobtail squid encompassing 15 genera in three or four subfamilies....

      • Sparkling Enope Squid
      • Vampire squid
        Vampire Squid
        The vampire squid is a small, deep-sea cephalopod found throughout the temperate and tropical oceans of the world. Unique retractile sensory filaments justify the Vampire Squid's placement in its own order: Vampyromorphida , which shares similarities with both squid and octopuses...


Microorganisms

  • Dinoflagellate
    Dinoflagellate
    The dinoflagellates are a large group of flagellate protists. Most are marine plankton, but they are common in fresh water habitats as well. Their populations are distributed depending on temperature, salinity, or depth...

    s (e.g. Noctiluca scintillans
    Noctiluca scintillans
    Noctiluca scintillans, commonly known as the Sea Sparkle, and also published as Noctiluca miliaris, is a free-living non-parasitic marine-dwelling species of dinoflagellate that exhibits bioluminescence. The bioluminescent characteristic of N...

    , Pyrodimium bahamense)
  • Vibrionaceae
    Vibrionaceae
    The Vibrionaceae are a family of Proteobacteria, given their own order. Inhabitants of fresh or salt water, several species are pathogenic, including the type species Vibrio cholerae, which is the agent responsible for cholera...

     (e.g. Vibrio fischeri
    Vibrio fischeri
    Vibrio fischeri is a gram-negative rod-shaped bacterium found globally in marine environments. V. fischeri has bioluminescent properties, and is found predominantly in symbiosis with various marine animals, such as the bobtail squid. It is heterotrophic and moves by means of flagella. Free living...

    , Vibrio harveyi
    Vibrio harveyi
    Vibrio harveyi is a species of Gram-negative, bioluminescent, marine bacteria in the genus Vibrio. V. harveyi are rod-shaped, motile , facultatively anaerobic, halophilic, and competent for both fermentative and respiratory metabolism. They do not grow at 4°C or above 35°C. V...

    , Vibrio phosphoreum
    Photobacterium phosphoreum
    Photobacterium phosphoreum or Vibrio phosphoreum is a Gram-negative bioluminescent bacterium living in symbiosis with marine organisms. It can emit bluish-green light thanks to a chemical reaction between FMN, luciferin and molecular oxygen catalysed by an enzyme called Luciferase.- In Popular...

    )
  • Members of the marine bacterial family Shewanellaceae, Shewanella hanedai and Shewanella woodyi have also been shown to be bioluminescent
  • Fungi
    Fungus
    A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

     – A total of 71 species are bioluminescent including species of Armillaria, Omphalotus
    Omphalotus
    Omphalotus is a genus of Basidiomycete mushroom formally described by Victor Fayod in 1889. Members have the traditional cap and stem toadstool form. The best known and type species is the jack-o'-lantern mushroom . Species of Omphalotus, which are poisonous, have been mistaken for chanterelles...

    , Mycena
    Mycena
    Mycena is a large genus of small saprotrophic mushrooms that are rarely more than a few centimeters in width. They are characterized by a white spore print, a small conical or bell-shaped cap, and a thin fragile stem. Most are gray or brown, but a few species have brighter colors. Most have a...

    , Gerronema
    Gerronema
    Gerronema is a genus of small- to medium-sized lignicolous agarics with white, nonamyloid, basidiospores and decurrent lamellae. The genus, first described by American mycologist Rolf Singer in 1951, contains 13 species.-Description:...

    , Pleurotus
    Pleurotus
    Pleurotus is a genus of gilled mushrooms which includes one of the most widely eaten mushrooms, P. ostreatus. Species of Pleurotus may be called oyster, abalone, or tree mushrooms, and are some of the most commonly cultivated edible mushrooms in the world...

    .

See also

  • Iridescence
    Iridescence
    Iridescence is generally known as the property of certain surfaces which appear to change color as the angle of view or the angle of illumination changes...

    , angle-dependent coloration
  • Biophoton
    Biophoton
    A biophoton , synonymous with ultraweak photon emission, low-level biological chemiluminescence, ultraweak bioluminescence, dark luminescence and other similar terms, is a photon of light emitted from a biological system and detected by biological probes as part of the general weak electromagnetic...

  • De Phenomenis in Orbe Lunae
    De Phenomenis in Orbe Lunae
    De Phenomenis in Orbe Lunae is a 1612 book by Collegio Romano philosophy professor Giulio Cesare de Galla that presents the first account in the Western world of bioluminescence....

  • Foxfire
    Foxfire (bioluminescence)
    Foxfire, also sometimes referred to as "fairy fire", is the bioluminescence created by some species of fungi present in decaying wood. The bluish green glow is attributed to luciferase, an oxidizing agent, which emits light as it reacts with luciferin...

  • List of light sources
  • Milky seas effect
    Milky seas effect
    Milky seas is a condition on the open ocean where large areas of seawater are filled with bioluminescent bacteria, causing the ocean to uniformly glow an eerie blue at night...

  • Wheels of Poseidon
    Wheels of Poseidon
    The Wheels of Poseidon are a biological phenomenon in which bioluminescent zooplankton create a luminescent wake from the bows of ships in the Indian Ocean. The perception from the luminescent wakes is that it resembles the spokes of a wheel, thus the name....

  • Raphaël Dubois
    Raphaël Dubois
    Horace Raphael Dubois was a French pharmacologist known for his work on bioluminescence and anesthesia. He coined the terms proteon and bioproteon. Proteon means matter; bioroteon means living matter. He concluded that there is no difference between the two.-Reference:...


External links