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Bioluminescence is the ability of living things to emit light. It is found in

The molecular details vary from organism to organism, but each involves

The more ATP available, the brighter the light. In fact, firefly luciferin and luciferase are commercially available for measuring the amount of ATP in biological materials.

Fireflies use their flashes to attract mates. The pattern differs from species to species. In one species, the females sometimes mimic the pattern used by females of another species. When the males of the second species respond to these "femmes fatales", they are eaten!

How Fireflies Control their Flashing

Barry Trimmer and his colleagues at Tufts University have recently discovered how fireflies turn their luminescent organs — called lanterns — on.

Bioluminescence in Marine Animals

The widespread occurrence of luminescence among deep-sea animals reflects the perpetual darkness in which they live.

In the case of fishes, the light is emitted by luminescent bacteria that grow in luminescent organs. The photos (courtesy of Prof. J. W. Hastings) show the flashlight fish, Photoblepharon palpebratus, with the lid of its luminescent organ open (left) and closed (right). The light is produced by continuously-emitting luminescent bacteria within the organs, but its display is controlled by the fish. These animals, which were photographed along reefs in the Gulf of Elat, Israel, appear to use their luminescent organs for such varied functions as

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17 April 2014