Definition of Bioluminescence

A chemical process in which luciferin reacts with oxygen in the prescence of the enzyme luciferase, resulting in light. (7 )


What Organisms Employ Bioluminesence?

What is Bioluminescence Used For?

How Does Bioluminescence Work?

Bioluminescence can be expected at any region or depth in the sea.   It occurs mainly at sea.  It is the only source of light in most of the habitable volume of the ocean.  However, with only a few exceptions, it is not found in freshwater.
The evolution of bioluminescence has occurred many times as is shown by the number of chemical mechanisms in which light is emitted and the various, distantly related organisms that are bioluminescent. (4 ) One of the unique features of bioluminescence is that, unlike other forms of light, it is cold light. Unlike any artificial light source, a star or even the glow of many heated materials, bioluminescent light is produced with very little heat radiation. (1 )
Because bioluminescence is so common in the marine environment, measurements of bioluminescence can facilitate location of certain animals, "how they associate with each other and how their distribution patterns are affected by such variables as light, temperature, salinity and pollution." (6 )


This page is being created for Biology 312:  Animal Physiology at Davidson College in North Carolina.

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