As bioluminescence ( Greek βιός BIOS 'and' Life in Latin lumen , light ') is in biology refers to the ability of living organisms, or with the help of symbionts to produce light. In the case of highly organized organisms, light is often generated in special luminous organs , in eukaryotic single cells in special organelles and in bacteria in the cytoplasm . It is based on chemical processes in which released energy is given off in the form of light, so it is chemiluminescence . A distinction is made in bioluminescence between primary and secondary lighting . The normal case is the primary glow in which an animal is able to glow by itself. If the glow is caused instead by symbiotic bacteria, such as B. known from fish, one speaks of secondary glow.
Bioluminescence can have several functions:
- Attracting prey or partners
- Warning or threatening function
- Deterrent or distraction function
- Camouflage by adapting your own light to the light of the surroundings
|rich||primary or secondary glow|
|Animals (multiple tribes )||primary glow ( only secondary glow in vertebrates )|
|Mushrooms (few species)||primary glow|
|higher plants||no glow|
|Protozoa (some)||primary glow|
|Bacteria (few)||primary glow|
Bioluminescence is particularly widespread among marine life, especially in the deep sea (up to 90 percent of deep sea organisms), but also in coastal waters (around five percent). Various cephalopods such as Vampire squid ( Vampyroteuthis infernalis ), the magic lamps ( Lycoteuthis ) and other squid (Teuthida) euphausiid ( krill , Euphausiacea), luminescent jellyfish ( luminescent jellyfish Pelagia noctiluca , Aequorea victoria , helmet jellyfish Periphylla periphylla ), polychaete ( Polychaeta ) as Eusyllis blomstrandi in the Helgoland Felswatt ( Helgoland ), the Chaetopterus variopedatus , which lives hidden in the sand, and the free-swimming Tomopteris helgolandica , corals such as Renilla reniformis and various deep-sea fish . Among the nudibranchia , sea-living nudibranchs, there are also several bioluminescent species, such as B. Plocamopherus imperialis and Phylliroe bucephalum .
Out of over 100,000 species of fungus examined, only 71 are bioluminescent. These include the honey-yellow honey mushroom ( Armillaria mellea ), the luminous olive mushroom ( Omphalotus olearius ) and some species of the genera dwarf balls ( Panellus , e.g. Panellus stipticus ), side mushrooms ( Pleurotus , e.g. Pleurotus japonicus ) and helmets ( Mycena , e.g. Mycena citricolor , Mycena lux-coeli ).
Bioluminescence developed in four lines of descent. It could be shown that the bioluminescent phenomena are based on the same principles in all four lineages.
The so-called sea glow is caused by plankton , for example by unicellular dinoflagellates ( Noctiluca scintillans ), which react to changes in flow by emitting light. Sea lights can be observed on numerous coasts.
There are some luminescent bacteria living free in seawater , which can also be found on foods such as fish, meat and eggs. These include, for example, Aliivibrio fischeri and photobacteria . Aliivibrio fischeri reproduces on dead saltwater fish and can be easily observed if a dead, fresh salted herring is kept cool for some time, which then glows in the dark.
A distinction is made between two forms of bioluminescence: primary and secondary glow. It is called primary glow when the organism generates the luminescence itself. Secondary glow, on the other hand, is when an organism enters into a symbiosis with other living beings (e.g. with luminescent bacteria) that have the ability to primary glow.
There are often symbioses of animals with luminous bacteria. The bacteria are supplied with food and oxygen by their hosts and often live in special skin pockets or parts of the body. An example are the deep sea angler fish .
Luciferin / luciferase
A frequently used bioluminescent chemical reaction is the exergonic oxidation of luciferins as D luciferin with molecular oxygen (O 2 ), catalyzed by enzymes of the luciferases . This creates dioxetanes or dioxetanones , which break down with the release of carbon dioxide and release the stored energy in the form of light.
Both the luciferins and the luciferases are species or group-specific, that is, characteristic of each group of organisms. The luciferases evidently emerged from other enzymes, the oxygenases , in the course of evolution . The change, mostly the splitting off of subgroups on the luciferin, creates energy that is emitted as a light quantum .
Aequorin / coelenterazine / coelenteramide
Another way of generating light, namely photoproteins, is used by the jellyfish Aequorea victoria . This coelenterate ( hollow animal ) uses aequorin , a Ca 2+ -dependent primary photoprotein. Since it is not chemically converted in the course of the reaction like other luciferins , but returns to its original state after the emission of light, it can be reused indefinitely. The blue-green glow of these jellyfish is caused by the combination of aequorin with the green fluorescent protein (GFP), which is now also used as an integral part of (cell) biological research.
Fungi use Foxfire bioluminescence , whereby the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) leads to the generation of bioluminescence.
Bioluminescence is not only of interest for basic research. Various technical applications of bioluminescence have been used routinely for some time. For example, bioluminescence is used as a low-risk labeling method in molecular biology , which together with fluorescent labeling has largely replaced the radioactive labeling method . Bioluminescence is also used as a detection method in ecotoxicology to detect and quantify toxins. The use of dinoflagellates in flow research to detect turbulence is discussed. Some researchers are already announcing self-illuminating monitors based on bioluminescence.
In 1999 British newspapers - and then media in other countries - reported on alleged work on self-illuminating Christmas trees. However, this never existed.
In the recent past, the bio-engineers at the US company BioGlow have succeeded in growing an autoluminescent plant with the help of genetic manipulation and bioluminescent enzymes. The aim of the development was to generate a clean, sustainable and affordable vegetable alternative for light sources. This new property of the plant is achieved by integrating marine bacteria into the chloroplast genome of the ornamental tobacco species Nicotiana alata . These naturally produce light as part of their induced metabolism.
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