Bioluminescence - Outline Draft #1

This topic submitted by Kathryn Hange ( katiehange@hotmail.com) at 4:52 PM on 3/30/03.

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Tropical Field Courses -Western Program-Miami University


Bioluminescence



In the ocean, bioluminescent organisms are everywhere, inhabiting all depths and covering all the world's oceans. The most common organism which uses bioluminescence is dinoflagellates. These phytoplankton (plant-like microscopic organisms) gather by the thousands to create red tides, this name coming from the red-brown color that overwhelms the oceans do to their immense numbers. These organisms produce streaks of electric blue light that highlight breaking waves during the night. The red tide phytoplankton use their flashes as a type of security alarm to avoid being eaten. Any stimulation of the cells creates flashes of light which is intended to scare away predators. In the perpetual darkness of the deep sea, where sunlight never reaches, bioluminescence serves other purposes. Angler fish grow luminescent bacteria in a special structure which dangles at the end of a stalk projecting from their forehead. Just as fisherman use a glowing lure for night fishing, in the perpetual darkness of the deep sea these fish attract prey by their glowing lures. Still other fish produce far-red beams of light from areas on their cheeks. Because most deep-sea animals can only see blue colors, the red luminescence serves as an invisible searchlight for finding prey or mates. Jellyfish so delicate that they disintegrate when touched emit brilliant displays of light when disturbed. They use this as a scare tactic to keep predators away.Whatever its purpose, bioluminescence is produced as a result of a chemical reaction which releases lots of energy.

Bioluminescence is a natural part of how organisms interact with their environment and each other and it's a fasinating and entrancing thing to encounter. From fireflies in neighorhoods here in Ohio to a vast number of organisms in oceans all around the world.


A.Chemistry of Bioluminescence
1.Chemicals
a.Luciferase
b.Luciferin
1.)Bacterial luciferin
2.)Dinoflagellate luciferin
3.)Coelenterazine
2.Chemical Reaction
a.Obtaining Luciferin
1.)Oxidation + Inactive Oxyluciferin
2.)Photoproteins

B.Common Misconceptions
1.Luminescence
2.Phosphorescence

C.Bioluminescent Organisms (some of the more popular)
1.Dinoflagellates
a. phytoplankton
b. red tides
2.Bivalves
3.Squid
4.Cnidarians
5.Tunicates
6.Earthworms
7.Fireflies

References (still researching!)


- Deep Sea Bioluminescence

- Dinoflagellate Bioluminescence

- Earthworm Bioluminescence

- ISBC

- J.W. Hastings. 1983. "Biological diversity, chemical mechanisms, and the evolutionary origins of bioluminescent systems." Journal of Molecular Evolution. v. 19: p.309-321.

**check this out!


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