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Are there investigations dealing with bioluminescent organisms or chloroplasts as light sources? Can Bioluminescence give off enough light to be used as a light source?
What hurdles would have to be overcome in order to utilize bioluminescent reations seprate from living organisims? (Imagine the reations occuring in road paint!)
- Cody Whitaker (age 16)
Dongola, IL. USA
Yes, bioluminescence can be used as a light source. At night, fire
flies use it -- an enzyme called luciferase splits a compound and the
energy from splitting gives off light. This enzyme has been isolated
and is used in biological assays in clinical and pharmaceutical
Also, at night, sometimes if you look in ocean, you will see little
jellyfish lighting up. The protein responsible for this has been
isolated and optimized so if you shine light of one wavelength (e.g.
uv, or blue), it will light up at a longer wavelength -- e.g. green.
This is call Green Fluorescent Protein and there are now many variants
of it. It is used in many many studies in biology. For example, if you
want to know where some protein is, you can "fuse" it with GFP and then
as the protein moves around inside a cell, it carries the GFP; you
excite with blue light and look at the green light coming out. You can
then track where the protein is moving. Clonetech sells GFP and it's
different color varients. In their "Living Colors" PDF brochure,
You can see some pictures of cells with gfp attached to various proteins.
(republished on 07/28/06)
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