glowing bacteria


#Bobtailsquid are masters of disguise!

Specialised mucous glands allow them to glue sand and shells to their head and upper body. At night they use a light organ in their gill cavity which contains special glowing bacteria. The bacteria are fed sugars by the squid in return for making light. The organ contains filters which may alter the wavelength of luminescence closer to that of downwelling moonlight and starlight, thus allowing the squid to cancel its silhouette and remain undetected as it swims above upward-looking predators.

#cephalopod #squid #cuttlefish #edithburgh #southaustralia #australia #ocean #animal #underwater #yorkepeninsula #underwatervideo #oceanvideos

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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

I created this piece during my Molecular Illustration course. We performed a bacterial transformation which produced E.coli bacteria that glowed in the dark. This process is explained in my piece and it also explains how the bacterial transformation process can be used to create human insulin. This piece is a 2 page spread designed to fit in a magazine like National Geographic.

New Research Shows That Bioluminescence Evolved Frequently in Fish

New research shows that bioluminescence—a phenomenon in which organisms generate visible light through a chemical reaction—evolved many more times among marine fishes, and likely throughout the entire tree of life, than previously thought. In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists from the American Museum of Natural History, St. Cloud State University, and the University of Kansas reveal that bioluminescence evolved 27 times in marine ray-finned fishes—and 29 times if sharks and rays are counted. Here are some of these amazing bioluminescent fish:

This ceratioid anglerfish has a built-in fishing rod, a modified fin spine topped with a lure that pulses with bacterial light. Anglerfishes are the only animals known to light up in two ways: the genus Linophryne has glowing bacteria in the lure and their own chemicals that make light in a complex chin barbel.
Image: © J. Sparks, R. Schelly, D. Roje

The deep-sea hatchetfish, which gets its name from the distinct hatchet-like shape of its body, has light-producing organs known as photophores that run along the length of their body and point downward. Hatchetfishes use these structurally complex photophores to mimic any down-welling sunlight and disappear from predators lurking below.
Image: © J. Sparks, R. Schelly, D. Roje

Barbeled dragonfish 
This barbeled dragonfish is a small bioluminescent deep-sea fish with a long protrusion attached to its chin, known as a barbel, which is tipped with a light-producing organ called a photophore. It also has large photophores below its eyes used to illuminate prey and potentially communicate, and along the sides of its body for camouflage.
Image: © J. Sparks, R. Schelly, D. Roje

Stoplight loosejaw
A stoplight loosejaw (Malacosteus niger), which is capable of engulfing prey nearly as large as its own body. It has both red and blue/green photophores under its eyes. Its primary prey source, Euphausid shrimp, cannot detect red light. The loosejaw uses this “private” wavelength of light to illuminate and hunt the shrimp.
Image: © Christopher Martinez

Learn more about this research. 

Requested by @megazaprat

Bioluminescence seems to be a common trope in pokémon, from Lanturn to Starmie and now Watchog! Animals (and pokémon) might need to light up for a number of reasons. To attract prey, to see in the dark, to camouflage, to threaten predators, or send warnings to the rest of their pack.

In short, it’s a chemical reaction, similar to a glowstick (but with different chemicals. The chemical luciferin reacts with oxygen, to produce light! Many fish (like an anglerfish) enlist the help of bacteria to get the luciferin they need to glow.

Different chemicals can give off different colors of light, but the most common are blues and greens, because those colors travel the farthest underwater, more than 80% of all luminescent species life in the deep water. In fact, bioluminescence is used almost exclusively used by salt water animals, with a few exceptions in fireflies and some fungus. Fungi and bacteria glow continuously when the process is triggered. Algae and other animal species flash instead.

But Watchog is a mammal. The first glow-in-the-dark mammal was actually a mouse, from a Stanford project in 1995 which extracted the glowing-genes from bacteria and successfully put them into the mouse.

So, it’s possible that Watchog might have its own genes to make it glow. The glowing parts of Watchogs body, its stripes, would be the equivalent of a Firefly’s light generating organ.

Alternatively, Watchog might use some other creature to help make the light, like how fish use bacteria to get the glow. Perhaps Watchog uses a glowing fungus or algae, which grows in its fur like certain algaes do in sloths. Watchog could clean and groom its fur, keeping some areas clean and the stripes full of glow. Decorator crabs, vultures, and certain insects have been known to cover themselves with pieces of coral, miscellaneous human trash, red soil, and even the carcasses of their prey for aesthetic purposes. Watchog might do it with glowing algae!

In any case, their shine helps them scare off predators and navigate the dark tunnels they dig. So Watchog seems to have it figured out.

Watchog uses a chemical reaction, possibly created by bacteria or algae, to glow. Flashing its patterns helps scare of predators, and helps them see in the dark underground.