Bioluminescence

Simplified explanation
of the different types of light emission.
Fluorescence:
The energy from an external light source is absorbed and almost immediately re-emitted.

Phosphorescence:
Similar to fluorescence although the excited product is more stable, resulting in energy
being released over a longer period, culminating in a glow after the light has been
removed.

Chemiluminescence:
A general term for production of light when energy is expended by a combination of excited
chemical components in a chemical reaction (as opposed to the absorption of photons, in
fluorescence).

Bioluminescence:
A subset of chemiluminescence, where the light-producing chemical reaction occurs inside
an organism and reacts with oxygen to produce photon emissions.

Bioluminescence (def.)
emission of light from living organisms, without appreciable heat.


What causes organisms to actually produce light?

The bioluminescence produced by fungi
is the result of a biochemical reaction  involving several components:

luciferina product of the organism
containing a specific molecule that undergoes a chemical change when affixed by an enzyme
luciferasethe enzyme that acts upon
luciferin
adenosine triphosphatethe energy molecule
oxygenas the catalyst

All these combined make an electronically
excited product capable of emitting a blue-green light.
Spectrometer readings show the colour is actually in the green colour spectrum.

click for more detailed information.

Bioluminescence at Springbrook can be
observed in several species of fungi.
Bioluminescence is also more locally recognised in the larval stage of
glow worms .
Adult fireflies ( actually small beetles ), also generate bioluminescence.

Oxygen intolerance:
Oxygen is just as toxic to the remnant bioluminescent organisms on earth today,
as it was
with their ancient ancestors.

Not all organisms on earth need oxygen to physically sustain
themselves.
Bioluminescent organisms fall into this category, however without oxygen they would not be
able to produce light.
In the process of light production they are using a chemical
reaction to convert the oxygen absorbed by their bodies into water.
The water is then expelled as a bi-product.

Most of the above plant and insect life emit light utilising the same biochemical reaction
and in the same colour spectrum , viz: pale green. One exception being the firefly which
is able to emit light in a different colour spectrum.


Springbrook Research Centre.
2509 Springbrook Road
Springbrook Q 4213

 

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