Scientists Discovery the Missing Link in Bioluminescence
With bioluminescence—the process that makes fireflies glow—now a mainstay in medical research, scientists are reporting discovery of a “missing link” of its evolution, which represents one of the deepest mysteries about bioluminescence. It paves the way toward development of new enzymes that glow in different colors and are 10, 100 or 1,000 times brighter, they say in ACS’ journal Biochemistry.
V.R. Viviani and colleagues focus on luciferases, enzymes critical in producing the bioluminescent effect in fireflies, jellyfish and other creatures. Scientists have known that bioluminescence originated 400 million years ago in jellyfish, and more recently in fireflies and other beetles. But how? That has been a mystery, the source of controversy and the key to developing more versatile bioluminescent enzymes for medicine and biology…
(read more: PhysOrg)
More information on ACS - Biochemistry

Scientists Discovery the Missing Link in Bioluminescence

With bioluminescence—the process that makes fireflies glow—now a mainstay in medical research, scientists are reporting discovery of a “missing link” of its evolution, which represents one of the deepest mysteries about bioluminescence. It paves the way toward development of new enzymes that glow in different colors and are 10, 100 or 1,000 times brighter, they say in ACS’ journal Biochemistry.

V.R. Viviani and colleagues focus on luciferases, enzymes critical in producing the bioluminescent effect in fireflies, jellyfish and other creatures. Scientists have known that bioluminescence originated 400 million years ago in jellyfish, and more recently in fireflies and other beetles. But how? That has been a mystery, the source of controversy and the key to developing more versatile bioluminescent enzymes for medicine and biology…

(read more: PhysOrg)

More information on ACS - Biochemistry

The scales covering the abdomen of a firefly
As the 10 micrometer scale bar gives away, you’re looking at something very small. As it turns out, the jagged shape of the scales actually enhances the fireflies’ glow, researchers report Jan. 8, 2013 in the journal Optics Express. The scientists used the example of the fireflies (genus Photuris) to design a new overlayer for LED lights that likewise brightens up the bulbs’ output, making them 1.5 times more efficient than the originals.
(via: Live Science)                     (image: Optics Express)

The scales covering the abdomen of a firefly

As the 10 micrometer scale bar gives away, you’re looking at something very small. As it turns out, the jagged shape of the scales actually enhances the fireflies’ glow, researchers report Jan. 8, 2013 in the journal Optics Express. The scientists used the example of the fireflies (genus Photuris) to design a new overlayer for LED lights that likewise brightens up the bulbs’ output, making them 1.5 times more efficient than the originals.

(via: Live Science)                     (image: Optics Express)

Reading the Language of Firefly Flashes
by AMNH staff
Flashing flirted its way up the firefly family tree.These beetles’ evolutionary history shows a strange metamorphosis unfolding. Firefly eyes grow bigger, more bug-like, as the insects’ light organs enlarge. Their antennae, used like a nose to follow pheromones, shrink into stubs. The more important bioluminescent courtship signaling became throughout their history, the more the trappings of invisible communication faded out.
When Marc Branham, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida, began researching fireflies, he assumed such a beloved animal would be a textbook case in entomology. He was shocked to learn how little scientists knew about the common insect.

(This table shows the diverse timing and repetition of flash dialogues from five firefly species. Shaded boxes represent repeating sequences. Blank boxes indicate “optional” flashes that reflect variation among individuals. Source: Lloyd, James E. (1966). Studies on the Flash Communication System in Photinus Fireflies. Table © AMNH/Hinterland)
What researchers did know was that each species of bioluminescent adult firefly has its own flash fingerprint. Males fly through the air and search for females with a species-specific light display. Some flash only once. Some emit “flash trains” of up to nine carefully timed pulses. Others fly in specific aerial patterns, briefly dipping before sharply ascending and forming a “J” of light. A few even shake their abdomens from side to side and appear to be twinkling. “So if you’re looking over a field,” says Branham, “You can pretty accurately tell how many species are in that area.”…
(read more: AMNH)       (photo: Quit007)

Reading the Language of Firefly Flashes

by AMNH staff

Flashing flirted its way up the firefly family tree.These beetles’ evolutionary history shows a strange metamorphosis unfolding. Firefly eyes grow bigger, more bug-like, as the insects’ light organs enlarge. Their antennae, used like a nose to follow pheromones, shrink into stubs. The more important bioluminescent courtship signaling became throughout their history, the more the trappings of invisible communication faded out.

When Marc Branham, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida, began researching fireflies, he assumed such a beloved animal would be a textbook case in entomology. He was shocked to learn how little scientists knew about the common insect.

(This table shows the diverse timing and repetition of flash dialogues from five firefly species. Shaded boxes represent repeating sequences. Blank boxes indicate “optional” flashes that reflect variation among individuals. Source: Lloyd, James E. (1966). Studies on the Flash Communication System in Photinus Fireflies. Table © AMNH/Hinterland)

What researchers did know was that each species of bioluminescent adult firefly has its own flash fingerprint. Males fly through the air and search for females with a species-specific light display. Some flash only once. Some emit “flash trains” of up to nine carefully timed pulses. Others fly in specific aerial patterns, briefly dipping before sharply ascending and forming a “J” of light. A few even shake their abdomens from side to side and appear to be twinkling. “So if you’re looking over a field,” says Branham, “You can pretty accurately tell how many species are in that area.”…

(read more: AMNH)       (photo: Quit007)

Spiders Learn to Avoid the Blinking Light
by Karl Gruber
Fireflies flash their lights to attract mates, but this bioluminescence  is also a magnet for predators. A new study published online this month  in Animal Behaviour, however, reveals that,        if a meal tastes bad, predators learn to avoid the blinking.
Researchers placed faux fireflies (a flashing green LED) next to either tasty crickets or a toxic firefly species (Ellychnia corrusca),  and then         released a jumping spider. Though the spiders initially attacked  both insects, those that went after the fireflies quickly learned to  avoid the         flashing LED. In the wild, both palatable and unpalatable  firefly species often share the same habitat, so if a spider or other  predator gets a bad         taste in its mouth, it will begin to shun all flashing lights,  to the benefit of both species.
(via: Science NOW)   (photo: E.M. Jacob)

Spiders Learn to Avoid the Blinking Light

by Karl Gruber

Fireflies flash their lights to attract mates, but this bioluminescence is also a magnet for predators. A new study published online this month in Animal Behaviour, however, reveals that, if a meal tastes bad, predators learn to avoid the blinking.

Researchers placed faux fireflies (a flashing green LED) next to either tasty crickets or a toxic firefly species (Ellychnia corrusca), and then released a jumping spider. Though the spiders initially attacked both insects, those that went after the fireflies quickly learned to avoid the flashing LED. In the wild, both palatable and unpalatable firefly species often share the same habitat, so if a spider or other predator gets a bad taste in its mouth, it will begin to shun all flashing lights, to the benefit of both species.

(via: Science NOW)   (photo: E.M. Jacob)

Fireflies (family Lampyridae)
They are winged beetles, and also commonly called lightning bugs for their conspicuous crepuscular use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a “cold light”, with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies. This chemically-produced light from the lower abdomen may be yellow, green, or pale-red, with wavelengths from 510 to 670 nanometers.
There are 2,000 species of firefly found in temperate and tropical environments. Many are in marshes or in wet, wooded areas where their larvae have abundant sources of food. These larvae emit light and are often called “glowworms”, in particular, in Eurasia. In the Americas, “glow worm” also refers to the related Phengodidae. In many species, both male and female fireflies have the ability to fly, but in some species females are flightless…
(read more: Wikipedia)
(photo: Photuris lucicrescens, by Bruce Marlin)

Fireflies (family Lampyridae)

They are winged beetles, and also commonly called lightning bugs for their conspicuous crepuscular use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. Fireflies produce a “cold light”, with no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies. This chemically-produced light from the lower abdomen may be yellow, green, or pale-red, with wavelengths from 510 to 670 nanometers.

There are 2,000 species of firefly found in temperate and tropical environments. Many are in marshes or in wet, wooded areas where their larvae have abundant sources of food. These larvae emit light and are often called “glowworms”, in particular, in Eurasia. In the Americas, “glow worm” also refers to the related Phengodidae. In many species, both male and female fireflies have the ability to fly, but in some species females are flightless…

(read more: Wikipedia)

(photo: Photuris lucicrescens, by Bruce Marlin)

Bioluminescence:  Fireflies aka “Lightning Bugs”
Fireflies, actually beetles, which use bioluminescence for sexual selection,  synchronize the flashing of their neon-green lights as large groups in  order to help female fireflies recognize potential mates, according to a  2010 study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut.  There are more than 2,000 species of fireflies, or lightning bugs, and  they are actually winged beetles, not flies.
(via: Live Science)   (photo: Cathy Keifer)

Bioluminescence:  Fireflies aka “Lightning Bugs”

Fireflies, actually beetles, which use bioluminescence for sexual selection, synchronize the flashing of their neon-green lights as large groups in order to help female fireflies recognize potential mates, according to a 2010 study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut. There are more than 2,000 species of fireflies, or lightning bugs, and they are actually winged beetles, not flies.

(via: Live Science)   (photo: Cathy Keifer)