Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. Its name is a hybrid word, originating from the Greek bios for "living" and the Latin lumen "light". Bioluminescence is a naturally occurring form of chemiluminescence where energy is released by a chemical reaction in the form of light emission.
Bioluminescence is credited with the discovery of how some bacteria, luminous or not, sense their density and regulate specific genes by chemical communication
Applications of bioluminescence to environmental monitoring, remedial investigations, toxicity assessments, and field methods
Bioluminescence methods that have been utilized to elucidate properties of chemicals, toxic and mutagenic effects, and to estimate biomass
NOAA defines bioluminescence this way: " The light emitted by a bioluminescent organism is produced by energy released from chemical reactions occurring inside (or ejected by) the organism.
In a firefly bioluminescence reaction, an enzyme known as a luciferase uses adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to activate a molecule called a luciferin. The product of this reaction combines with molecular oxygen to produce an excited-state oxyluciferin species. When oxyluciferin relaxes back to its ground state, energy is released in the form of light.
Although it takes many guises in nature, bioluminescence serves the three basic purposes of "finding food, finding mates and defending against predators," says Edie Widder, co-founder, president and senior scientist at the Florida-based Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA).
Marine environments support a number of bioluminescent organisms including species of bacteria, dinoflagellates, jellyfish, coral, shrimp, and fish. On any given night one can see the luminescent sparkle produced by the single-celled dinoflagellates when water is disturbed by a ship's bow or a swimmer's motions.
A specific bacterial taxon may have some members that exhibit bioluminescence and others that do not
The light-emitting reaction of luminous bacteria involves a luciferase-catalyzed oxidation of reduced flavin mononucleotide (FMNH2) by molecular oxygen, with the concomitant oxidation of a long-chain aliphatic aldehyde, probably tetradecanal
Catabolite repression represents still another specific mechanism whereby control over the synthesis of the bioluminescence system can be exerted.