April 6, 2009
Scientists study marine fireworms
U.S. scientists say they've uncovered clues about the bioluminescent process used by marine fireworms that produce a green glow often seen in tropical seas.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers at the University of California-San Diego led by Dimitri Deheyn and Michael Latz said the fireworms use bioluminescence to attract suitors in an undersea mating ritual and might also use the light as a defensive measure.
This is another step toward understanding the biology of the bioluminescence in fireworms, and it also brings us closer to isolating the protein that produces the light,said Deheyn, a scientist in the Marine Biology Research Division at Scripps.
If we understand how it is possible to keep light so stable for such a long time, it would provide opportunities to use that protein or reaction in biomedical, bioengineering and other fields -- the same way other proteins have been used.
The report appears as the cover story in the current issue of the journal Invertebrate Biology.