Doesn’t it sound cool and intriguing idea to have a our home and streets lustrous with beautiful luminescence? And of course with no or least expenses and where the concept of ‘energy crisis’ is just a mere thought. Yes. Sounds great. Ever heard of term ‘bioluminescence? Bio refers to ‘living’ and luminescence is for ‘light or glow’. But of course us humans are not capable of producing bioluminescence. Certainly, there are some creatures which are a source of bioluminescence. The very first concept which comes in our minds is fireflies.
Fireflies are perhaps the best and our favorite kind of bioluminescent sources. However, the list also includes some of bacterial species, anglerfish, octopus and glow worms and some fungus species as well, which emit light. This light is something different and unique from fluorescence.
Fluorescent organisms, such as some butterflies, glow in this presence of some external light source. Their florescence is because of presence of a pigment in their body which glows in external light. On the other hand, the bioluminescence is more like the energy from biochemical reactions which emits as light rays form the body of organism.
So the idea is that this bioluminescence ability of this organism can be manipulated and applicable as replacement of other light sources. Thus, this bioluminescent will be an effective way to deal with the energy crises that most of the countries are facing.
So here in this article, let’s explore a bit about what bioluminescence is and how can it remediate the issue of energy crisis as being substantial source of light energy.
The science behind bioluminescence
The science of bioluminescent organisms is all about energy. According to the researchers at University of California at Santa Baarbara, a compound-luciferin is the reason for luminescence. When this compound comes in contact with oxygen, an enzyme luciferase breaks it down and the energy of biochemical reaction emits as visible light.
Thus, this chemical reaction of luciferin is the reason for bioluminescent. It is estimated that more than 75% marine species are sources of this ‘living light’. For instance, the anglerfish, Hawaiian bobtail squid- euprymna scolopes and many bacterial species. One of these bacterial species is Aliivibrio fishcheri. These bacteria are abundant at seashore their bioluminescence is the reason that the beaches glow at night.
For bacteria, this luminescence is a way to camouflage. Moreover, the bacteria use this as signaling technique to communicate-the phenomenon of quorum sensing. this quorum sensing is quite like a chemical language to communicate and to signal within the species members.
Another phytoplankton- Noctiluca scintillans is bioluminescent at seashores.
How bioluminescence is significant for us humans?
Man is always in search of resources to put on a pedestal to his lifestyle. Throughout the history, we have achieved much advancement and we are still in search for many more. However, the energy crisis is not something we are not aware of. Therefore, it is the need of hour to develop and discover better resources of energy.
Now here comes bioluminescence, as potential resource of green and blue light. The early history suggests that minors used fireflies as source of light. These days researchers are focusing to develop bioluminescent lights to replace the electric lights.
Some insight to research on bioluminescence
Aliivibrio fischeri is bioluminescent bacterial species. The researchers have manipulated this bioluminescent capacity of marine organisms. This is useful to monitor water toxicity levels. The basis is that the bioluminescence decreases accordingly, if the water is contaminated or polluted.
Bioluminescence imaging (BI) is a molecular biology tool for detection of small lab organism and microbes. This bioluminescent imaging is a noninvasive tool to study the biological pathways and reaction in vivo conditions. Moreover, this will be helpful to study the transgenic expression.
Glowee is a French company working on to revolutionize the whole concept of bioluminescence. The company is prototyping the concept of bioluminescent light. The researchers are trying to develop naturally glowing lights. For the purpose, they are manipulating the bioluminescent genes and bacteria. A shell like tube is filled with contents to provide bacterial species with essential growth elements. Once the bacteria survive in this medium, they will light up as bioluminescence. So, we humans are keen to explore more and more to use such ‘natural gifts’ for betterment of mankind. Considering the progress and developments we have achieved until now, I have no doubts that bioluminescent lights are going to be a reality in near future.
Naturally glowing bioluminescent organisms really put a show especially at seashore at night. If you ever been to Australia or New Zeeland, you will be mesmerized by the caves of glowworms- Arachnocampa flava. Beaches glow like a fairytale at night when the bioluminescent organism glow.