Definition of Bioluminescence: Process in which living organisms convert chemical energy into light. It can be a variety of colors including blue, green, yellow, orange, or red.
The process of making the chemicals in Bioluminesent organisms

Part One: Fish and Underwater Creatures

Bioluminescence creatures, such as the Angler Fish, are found in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments (preferably darker places.) There are also some species of land animals that carry this trait, such as the common firefly. Bioluminescence is found in species of bacteria, algae, fungi,and invertebrate animals.
There are several uses that animals have for Bioluminescence.
Camouflage, for hiding from predators.
Attraction to lure of attrack prey towards them for an easy meal.
Repulsion which can scare away any other animals out to eat them(squids).
Communication, some scientists think that the light emitted from these creatures play a role in communication passed between bacteria. Some animals use photophores to produce bioluminescence, while several others use specialized tissues, and yet others have symbiotic bacteria that live in specialized cells and produce the light.

An interesting fact is that many of these organisms can control when they want to make their light brighter or dimmer.

Though Bioluminesce is most commonly associated with deep-water fish, there are a few land animals, such as the fireflies, glow worms, a couple types of spiders, and the railroad worms. Fireflies, sometimes known as the Lightning Bug, are nocturnal and use their glow to lure prey and attract mates. The glow worms' glow is only found in the females and larvea, but males might have small amount of light(unseeable to our eyes). In the railroad worms body there are two colors of bioluminesce, distinct from all other because of this (Also known as the Apple Maggot).

These creatures, and many more, have lights but they don't all have a continueous glow to them. Some,like the Dinoflagellates, have flashes that flash on and off at about one tenth of a second. Certain species of Jellyfish keep their light for awhile before blinking. Others don't flash at all.

The ocean is divided into three light zones: the Photic Zone (less than 220
yards or 200 meters from the surface of the ocean), the "Twilight" zone (between 220 to 1,100 yards or 200 to 1,000 meters from the surface), and the Aphotic Zone (more than 1,100 yards or 1,000 meters from the surface). In the "Twilight" zone, it becomes difficult to see, and colors become blurred or hidden. The Aphotic Zone receives absulutely no light at all, and this region's inhabitants live in complete darkness. For the organisms that live in these deep regions, to survive they have to have light. This is why scientists believe that these creatures have this amazing power.


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United States Glow Worm
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Part Two: Land Creatures

Of the land creatures who contain Bioluminescence, the firefly is by far the most popular known. There are also many thoughts on how fireflies control the on an
Adult Photuris lucicrescens firefly
Adult Photuris lucicrescens firefly
d off of their photic organs. Though the exact mechanism(s) has yet to be worked out. There is one theory called "Oxygen Control Theory". It is based on the firefly turning on and off its light by controlling the oxygen supply to the photic organ for use in the chemical reaction. Another theory is the theory called "Neural Activation Theory". It is hypothesized that fireflies have neural control of structures called "tracheal end cells".

Bioluminescence is a very efficient process. About 90% of the energy a firefly uses to create light is actually turned into visible light. A comparison of this is: an incandescent electric bulb can convert only 10 percent of total energy used into visible light, and the remainder is emitted as heat.

The firefly has only two known reasons for the use of Bioluminescence. The males use their lights to attract females, while the females use theirs to attract the males. Larvea use it to tell predators that they taste bad.

Though it may seem impossible, the scientsists that study Bioluminescence and are researching it are benefiting human medicine and one day it may advance it. Scientists watch intracellular events by measuring the making of the light when a certain chemical is present, a certain reaction takes place, or a gene is activated.


Bioluminescence 1