martes, 31 de marzo de 2015

Bioluminescence: Nature’s Light Show [Photo Gallery]

Long before humans figured out that sporting glowy lights could make you look really cool at dance parties, animals large and small had already figured out that light could be an advantage. Organisms that make their own light through bioluminescence use their flashy accessories to 
  • lure prey, 
  • attract mates, 
  • warn off predators, and 
  • perform a host of other functions.

Most bioluminescent organisms reside in the ocean, but landlubbers find ways to make good use of light too. Just recently, scientists discovered that bioluminescent mushrooms glow green in order to attract insects that help them disperse their spores, and while we’ve known of fireflies’ flashing abilities for a long time, late last year scientists learned how they actually add oxygen to their light-producing cells.

Science has taken advantage of natural glowing for its own ends—the Aequoria victoria jellyfish shown above was the source for the isolation of green fluorescent protein (GFP), which is used throughout biological experiments to measure gene expression. GFP, which earned its discoverers the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, lights up green when exposed to ultraviolet or blue light—the latter being produced by the jellyfish using the protein aequorin. Researchers have even isolated bioluminescent proteins from bacteria to create glow-in-the-dark plants. But equally beautiful specimens can be found out in nature. Here are some glowing examples.

Image Credit: istock / GaryKavanagh

World Science Festival

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