Bioluminescence Essay

This essay has a total of 716 words and 4 pages.


Bioluminescence is simply light created by living organisms. Probably the most commonly
known example of bioluminescence by North Americans is the firefly. But over 10,000
creatures in the ocean, that's 85% of creatures 1,000 feet and below, are bioluminescent.
This paper is to try to explain how and why evolution would develop bioluminescence. And
how the organism weather it be plant or animal, benefits from this unique trait. There are
at least six different categories of bioluminescent functions: Navigation, Defense,
Communication, Camouflage, Reproduction, and to use as a trap.

One of the features of biological light (bioluminescence) that makes it unique from other
forms of light is that it is cold light. Unlike the light of a candle, or a light bulb,
bioluminescent light is produced with very little to no heat radiation. The light is the
result of a biochemical reaction in which the oxidation of a compound called "Luciferin"
and the enzyme called "Luciferase". The reaction involves a substrate (D-Luciferin),
combining with ATP, and oxygen which is controlled by the enzyme(Luciferase). Luciferins
and Luciferase are different chemically in different

organisms but they all require molecular energy (ATP) for the reaction. Then the energy
excites the molecule created by combining luciferace and luciferin The result of this
excitement is decay which is turned into a form of photon emission. The light, a byproduct
of the chemical reaction is therefore cold light.

The reaction can then be slightly altered by the light being absorbed into a florescent
pigment inside the photophore (light producing organ) to change the color of the light.
Most of the creatures use a blue, green, or bluish green light because that wavelength
travels farthest in a deep sea environment. Also the creatures have adapted to that light
so they are in effect color blind to other wavelengths like red. The family of fish known
as loosejaws have learned to use that to there advantage, by producing red

light that they can use to communicate in "there own language" and navigate to their prey.
Without the prey ever being able to see them coming.

Yellow and White light is slightly more rare and can be used on the underside of a
fish's body to replace the light that it blocks out when swimming over a predator nearer
to the surface. This process is called counterillumination. That way the predator cannot
single it out. Examples of these is a species are Euphausia pacifica(krill),

heteropsis(octopus), or the hatchetfish.
Some organisms constantly produce light. And when they want it turned off they have to
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