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How do marine bacteria produce light, why are they luminescent, and can we employ bacterial bioluminescence in aquatic biotechnology?

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Author(s): Grzegorz Wêgrzyn | Agata Czyz

Journal: Oceanologia
ISSN 0078-3234

Volume: 44;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 291;
Date: 2002;
Original page

Keywords: Bioluminescence | Luminescent bacteria | Quorum sensing | DNA repair | Detection of mutagenic pollution in marine environments

ABSTRACT
Bioluminescence, the phenomenon of light production by living organisms, occurs in forms of life as various as bacteria, fungi and animals. Nevertheless, light-emitting bacteria are the most abundant and widespread of luminescent organisms. Interestingly, most species of such bacteria live in marine environments. In this article, the biochemical mechanism of bacterial luminescence and its genetic regulation are summarized. Although the biochemistry and genetics of light emission by cells have been investigated in detail, the biological role of bacterial luminescence has remained obscure. Here, we discuss recent discoveries that shed new light on this problem. Finally, we provide examples of how bacterial luminescence can be employed in marine biotechnology, especially in the detection of toxic and mutagenic pollution in aquatic environments.
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