Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Light Shed On Marine Luminescence

Date:
March 7, 2009
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
The mystery of how some marine animals produce light has come one step closer to being solved. Researchers have discovered that krill, the luminous crustacean, can use special and previously unknown muscles to regulate light intensity.

"Light-switch" muscles of the luminescent krill.
Credit: Jenny Kronstrom

The phenomenon of light emission by living organisms, bioluminescence, is quite common, especially in marine species. It is known that light is generated by chemical reactions in which oxygen molecules play an important part.

In the animal world, these chemical reactions take place in special luminescent cells called photocytes. These are aggregated into complex light organs, in which the intensity of light is regulated by nerve impulses, and in which light can be modulated with the help of reflectors, lenses and filters. By these means, organisms can adjust the wavelength, diffusion and intensity of light according to need. But the exact mechanisms behind these processes remain shrouded in mystery.

Jenny Krφnstrφm, a researcher at the Department of Zoology of the University of Gothenburg has put another piece of the jigsaw puzzle in place by investigating the light organs of marine jellyfish, crustaceans and fish. In her thesis she reveals that krill, the luminescent crustacean, is equipped with special muscles that regulate light intensity through contraction and relaxation.

Nitric oxide is also thought to play an important role in the bioluminescence of krill. It is produced in the small capillary vessels that keep the krill's photocytes supplied with oxygen, as well as in special closure muscles, sphincters, that are located at the point where these capillaries distribute blood to the photocytes. Experiments with agents that make the sphincters contract or relax show that when the sphincters relax, the krill begins to luminesce, presumably because of the increased flow of oxygenated blood to the photocytes.

As bioluminescence has developed independently at several different points in evolution, different species have developed different methods of regulating and emitting light. Jenny Krφnstrφm's research demonstrates that nitric oxide also has different effects in different species. In the remarkable deep sea Silver Hatchetfish (Argyropelecus olfersii) nitric oxide inhibits the light reaction, whilst in the Plain Midshipman fish (Porichthys notatus) it has an opposite, stimulating effect.

Biological light is not only useful to the organism itself as a biological torch, camouflage or as a means of communication; the substances that are involved in the chemical luminescent reaction have also shown themselves to be useful in modern molecular biology, in which the discovery of green fluorescent protein, which produces green light in jellyfish, led to the Nobel Prize in Chemistry as recently as 2008.

The thesis "Control of bioluminescence: Operating the light switch in photophores from marine animals" is to be publicly defended on February 20th 2009.

 


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Gothenburg. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "New Light Shed On Marine Luminescence." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223121359.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2009, March 7). New Light Shed On Marine Luminescence. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223121359.htm
University of Gothenburg. "New Light Shed On Marine Luminescence." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090223121359.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) — A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins