Nature to illuminate research
Here you can see fireflies, a type of beetle that glows.
Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light from enzymes called luciferases. In nature, many organisms such as jellyfish and fireflies ‘glow’ using these enzymes.
In scientific research, bioluminescent proteins are used to monitor changes to cells.
In the bottom images around 7000 bacterial colonies have been printed on an agar plate.The bacteria have been genetically engineered to display the bioluminescent enzyme from the firefly Photinus pyralis.
The images were taken with a sensitive camera which can detect the light output from luciferase in each colony. The light output of different types of luciferase can be analysed to discover which ones have enhanced characteristics that could be used in research.
Image credits: Terry Priest, s58y, Cassandra Stowe