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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bioluminescence

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LITERATURE REVIEW


Bioluminescence is defined as the light produced by a chemical reaction within the systems and structures of an organism. Bioluminescence is one of those natural phenomenons’s that has perplexed scientists past and present about its mysterious works, usages, and functions in the living environment.


There are complex principals to even discuss background information about the chemistry of bioluminescence. During the process of bioluminescence, at least two chemicals are required. “The one which produces light is generally called a luciferin, and the one that drives or catalyzes the reaction is called a luciferase” (Chemistry of Bioluminescence, 1). “Bioluminescence refers to the visible light emission in living organisms that accompanies the oxidation of organic compounds (luciferins) mediated by an enzyme catalyst (luciferase). Luminescent organisms, which include bacteria, fungi, fish, insects, algae, and squid, have been found in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats, with bacteria being the most widespread and abundant luminescent organism in nature “(Intro. To Bioluminescence, 17). In its simplest form, bioluminescence follows a basic pattern. First, “the luciferase catalyzes the oxidation of luciferin. This chemical process results in light production and an inactive substance called oxyluciferin” (Chemistry of Bioluminescence, 1). This entire process requires the formation of ATP by the mitochondria within the cell structure. ATP is the basic form of energy produced to carry out life activities. “Sometimes the luciferin and the luciferase (as well as a co-factor such as oxygen) are bound together in a single unit called a photoprotein. This molecule can be triggered to produce light when a particular type of ion is added to the system (frequently calcium) “Chemistry of Bioluminescence, 1).


There are a variety of organisms that perform the chemical functions of bioluminescence. “Although bioluminescence may be considered rare as measured by the total number of species, it is extremely diverse in its occurrence” (Bioluminescence Q&A, 000). However, bioluminescence is never found in complex, higher vertebrates. Some single celled organisms which are bioluminescence are bacteria (most common), radiolarian, dinoflagellates, fungi, coelenterates and ctenophores (jellyfish), gastropods (squids and octopus), annelids (earthworms and polychaetes), marine crustaceans (mysids, copepods, ostracods, amphipods, krill, and shrimp), insects (beetles, glowworms, and fireflies), and echinoderms (sea lilies, sea stars, brittlestars, and sea cucumbers) (Bioluminescence Q&A, 000). In particular, one bacterium which is prominent in bioluminescent function is Vibrio Fischeri. “This luminescent bacterium can be found in small amounts in the ocean and in large amount in isolated areas such as the light organs of squid. When in small concentration of cells, Vibrio Fischeri does not give off light, but in high cell density, these bacteria emit a blue-green light. This cell density-dependent control of gene expression is activated by auto induction that involves the coupling of a transcriptional activator protein with a signal molecule (auto inducer) that is released by the bacteria into its surrounding environment. In the ocean, the population density of Vibrio fischeri is only about 10 cells/ml. The exportation of the auto inducer from the bacteria into this low concentration of cells is not enough to cause the luminescence genes to be activated. However, inside the light organ of a squid for example, the cell concentration is about 1010 cells/ml. At concentrations this high, the auto inducer causes the bacteria to emit light” (Mellon, 1).


Cheap College Papers on Bioluminescence




Along with the process of luminescence, scientists have also developed certain tools to measure the intensity of luminescence for scientific study. “Luminescence systems have been adapted to many of the protocols that use fluorescent and radiolabeled tags, such as tagging DNA and RNA probes, DNA/RNA sequencing, and chromosome imaging” (Kling, 17). One company, who has invested in the study of bioluminescence with toxic chemicals in cells uses the ‘CytoLux.’ The Cytolux includes, “all the regents necessary to break open the cells to release ATP, and then apply the luciferase and luciferin. Once the regents are added, the solution can be transferred to a luminometer…” (Kling, 17).


Bioluminescence can be used for a variety of situations in a laboratory. “…bioluminescence can be used to detect bacterial contamination in soft drink bottles; to predict the affect of chemotherapies on cancer cells; and as a reporter molecule to highlight gene expression in molecular biology experiments” (Lewis, 14). Bioluminescence provides a wide variety for solutions to problems, as well as an aid to an experiment to find out results.


In addition to bioluminescence aiding in functions of experiments, bioluminescence also requires aid for its own functioning. One example is the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). GFP, from Aequorea Victoria (the same jellyfish that provides the calcium indicator aequorin), has stimulated a great deal of excitement among molecular, developmental and cell biologists…” (Fluorescence/Green Fluorescent Protein, 16). “…GFP is a small protein (7 Kd) and the DNA sequences coding for GFP can be manipulated by recombinant DNA technology to create gene fusions between GFP and any protein of interest. Such DNA constructs can then be introduced into living cells to express the GFP fluorescent tag on the protein of interest to the investigator. (Note that in real life, some gene fusions may leave the GFP tag non-fluorescent and/or render non-functional the protein of interest). The major use of the tag is to localize the protein of interest to a specific cell type and/or subcellular localization in living cells and organisms.” (Fluorescence/Green Fluorescent Protein, 16).


Another topic which must be called upon discussion is the basic information on the element calcium. Calcium may or may not affect the intensity of bioluminescence in certain bacteria, such as Vibrio Fischeri. Calcium has an atomic number of 0 on the periodic table. It is a metallic substance with an atomic weight of 40.078, a melting point of 1115 K, boiling point of 1757 K, and a density of 1.54 grams per cubic centimeter. (It’s Elemental, no date). “Although calcium is the fifth most abundant element in the earth’s crust, it is never found free in nature since it is easily forms compounds by reacting with oxygen and water…Calcium is used to remove oxygen, sulfur, and carbon from certain alloys. Calcium can be alloyed with aluminum, beryllium, copper, lead, and, magnesium” (It’s Elemental, no date). Calcium is also used in the processes of bioluminescence.


As one can see, there are several aspects to the principals behind bioluminescence. Between different techniques, technologies, and new advancements in science, scientists are able to find new uses for the functions of bioluminescence in biological organisms.


WORKS CITED


1. “Bioluminescence Questions and Answers.” Scripps Institution of Oceanography. August , 000. http//siobiolum.ucsd.edu/Biolum_q&a.html.


. “Calcium.” It’s Elemental. (No date listed). http//education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele00.html.


. “Chemistry of Bioluminescence.” Bioluminescence Home Page. September 1, 1. http//lifesci.ucsb.edu/~biolum/chem/.


4. “Fluorescence/Green Fluorescent Protein. Universal Imaging Corporation. 16. http//www.image1.com/products/apps/fluor.cfm.


5. “Introduction to Bioluminescence. 17. http//www.info.bio.cmu.edu/Courses/0441/TermPapers/7TermPapers/lux/bioluminescence....


6. King, James. “Luminescence Developments Help Scientists See the Light.” The Scientist. May 1, 17. http//www.the-scientist.com/yr17/may/tools_7051.html.


7. “Lewis, Ricki. “Refinements in Bioluminescence Assays Expand Technique’s Applications.” The Scientist. March 7, 14. http//www.the-scientist.com/yr14/mar/tools_04007.html.


8. Mellon, Carnegie. Quorum Sensing in Vibrio Fischeri. Molecular biology of Prokaryotes. 1. http//info.bio.cmu.cdu/Courses/0441/TermPapers/TermPapers/Quorum/vibrio_fischeri....





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