Thursday, November 14, 2013

Scientist Uncover Novel Bioluminescent Properties of the Parchment Tube Worm

It has been known for decades that the Chaetopterus marine worm, commonly known as the 'parchment tube worm' is capable of producing light in the form of a mucus that is secreted from any part of the worms body. A recent paper in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology entitled: 'Optical and Physicochemical Characterization of the Luminous Mucous Secreted by the Marine Worm Chaetopterus sp.' describes the work that is the result of collaborative efforts by scientists at the Scripps Institute and Georgetown University.

Polychaete worm Chaetopterus sp
PD-US-not renewed
In this paper the authors described in detail the light produced in the worms mucus. The light is a long glow in the blue range (455 nm) which is an unusual color among this class of invertebrates. The scientists also found that the light is produced by a photoprotein and that light production is independent of oxygen and not strongly increased by iron.

Numerous biotechnological applications already employ bioluminescence as their means of detecting gene expression, enzyme activity, protein-protein interactions and other biological/biochemical phenomena. We at BMG LABTECH will be watching the progress of this research with interest to see if the long-lived blue light can be harnessed for a biotechnological application. You can be sure that if this becomes an important detection method that BMG LABTECH will have the microplate readers capable of performing this detection.

Some information for this blog post was obtained from the Science Daily article: Nature's Glowing Slime: Scientists Peek Into Hidden Sea Worm's Light