Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Scripps Scientists Help Decode Mysterious Green Glow of the Sea

03.04.2009
Dual purpose discovered for worm's brilliant bioluminescent light

Many longtime sailors have been mesmerized by the dazzling displays of green light often seen below the ocean surface in tropical seas. Now researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have uncovered key clues about the bioluminescent worms that produce the green glow and the biological mechanisms behind their light production.

Marine fireworms use bioluminescence to attract suitors in an undersea mating ritual. Research conducted by Scripps marine biologists Dimitri Deheyn and Michael Latz reveals that the worms also may use the light as a defensive measure. The report, published as the cover story of the current issue of the journal Invertebrate Biology, provides insights into the function of fireworm bioluminescence and moves scientists closer to identifying the molecular basis of the light.

"This is another step toward understanding the biology of the bioluminescence in fireworms, and it also brings us closer to isolating the protein that produces the light," said Deheyn, a scientist in the Marine Biology Research Division at Scripps. "If we understand how it is possible to keep light so stable for such a long time, it would provide opportunities to use that protein or reaction in biomedical, bioengineering and other fields-the same way other proteins have been used."

The fireworms used in the study (Odontosyllis phosphorea) are seafloor-dwelling animals that inhabit tropical and sub-tropical shallow coastal areas. During summer reproductive events known as "swarming," females secrete a luminous green mucus-which often draws the attention of human seafarers-before releasing gametes into the water. The bright glow attracts male fireworms, which also release gametes into the bright green cloud.

The precisely timed bioluminescent displays have been tracked like clockwork in Southern California, the Caribbean and Japan, peaking one to two days before each quarter moon phase, 30 to 40 minutes after sunset and lasting approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

Deheyn and Latz collected hundreds of specimens from San Diego's Mission Bay for their study, allowing them to not only examine live organisms but also produce the fireworms' luminous mucus for the first time in an experimental setting. The achievement provided a unique perspective and framework for examining the biology behind the worm's bioluminescent system.

A central finding described in the Invertebrate Biology paper is that the fireworms' bioluminescent light appears to play a role beyond attracting mates. The researchers found that juveniles produce bioluminescence as flashes, leading to a determination that the light also may serve as a defensive mechanism, intended to distract predators.

Through experiments that included hot and cold testing and oxygen depletion studies, Deheyn and Latz found that the bioluminescence is active in temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit). Higher temperatures, however, caused the bioluminescence to decay rapidly. The light also proved resilient in settings of low oxygen levels.

Based on these tests, the researchers believe the chemical process responsible for the bioluminescence may involve a specific light-producing protein-also called a "photoprotein." Further identification and isolation will be pursued in future studies.

"We were inspired by the work of earlier researchers who had studied the chemistry of fireworm bioluminescence, including Osamu Shimomura, one of the winners of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of green fluorescent protein from the jellyfish luminescent system," said Latz. "This new study showed that the fireworm bioluminescence also involves green fluorescence, originating from the oxidation product of the luminescent reaction."

The study was supported by a grant from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research's Biomimetics, Biomaterials and Biointerfacial Sciences program.

Mario Aguilera | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu
http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/Releases/?releaseID=970

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Hunting pressure on forest animals in Africa is on the increase
09.02.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Man-made underwater sound may have wider ecosystem effects than previously thought
05.02.2016 | University of Southampton

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Supraleitung: Fußbälle ohne Widerstand

Hinweise auf einen lichtinduzierten verlustfreien Stromtransport in Alkali-Fulleriden helfen bei der Suche nach supraleitenden Materialien für die Praxis.

Supraleiter bleiben einstweilen in Nischenanwendungen verbannt. Da selbst die besten dieser Materialien erst bei minus 70 Grad Celsius ihren elektrischen...

Im Focus: New study: How stable is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?

Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels

A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West...

Im Focus: Superconductivity: footballs with no resistance

Indications of light-induced lossless electricity transmission in fullerenes contribute to the search for superconducting materials for practical applications.

Superconductors have long been confined to niche applications, due to the fact that the highest temperature at which even the best of these materials becomes...

Im Focus: "Footware Innovation" – Digitale Techniken für individuelles Schuhwerk

Sieben mittelständische Unternehmen des Orthopädiefachhandwerks, die Universität Bayreuth und die Fraunhofer-Projektgruppe Prozessinnovation in Bayreuth haben sich zum neuen Netzwerk „Footware Innovation Network (FIN)“ zusammengeschlossen. Das Netzwerk soll dem Orthopädiefachhandwerk den Nutzen digitaler Technologien vom 3D-Scan bis zum 3D-Druck erschließen, um kundenorientiert und dabei kostengünstig höchst individuelle Produkte herstellen zu können.

Praktikable Produktlösungen für das Orthopädiefachhandwerk

Im Focus: Wbp2 is a novel deafness gene

Researchers at King’s College London and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the United Kingdom have for the first time demonstrated a direct link between the Wbp2 gene and progressive hearing loss. The scientists report that the loss of Wbp2 expression leads to progressive high-frequency hearing loss in mouse as well as in two clinical cases of children with deafness with no other obvious features. The results are published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.

The scientists have shown that hearing impairment is linked to hormonal signalling rather than to hair cell degeneration. Wbp2 is known as a transcriptional...

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

FZI Open House: IKT-Forschung für die Praxis hautnah erleben

09.02.2016 | Veranstaltungen

KIT 2016: Infektiologen und Tropenmediziner tagen in Würzburg

08.02.2016 | Veranstaltungen

11. European Bioplastics Konferenz 2016

08.02.2016 | Veranstaltungen

 
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Supraleitung: Fußbälle ohne Widerstand

09.02.2016 | Physik Astronomie

Beinahe Unmögliches aus dem 3D-Drucker

09.02.2016 | Informationstechnologie

Das große Strömen zum Licht

09.02.2016 | Biowissenschaften Chemie