How do marine bacteria produce light, why are they luminescent, and can we employ bacterial bioluminescence in aquatic biotechnology?
Grzegorz Wegrzyn1,2, Agata Czyz3
1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Gdansk, Kladki 24, PL-80-822 Gdansk, Poland; [email protected]
2Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Sw. Wojciecha 5, PL-81-347 Gdynia, Poland
3Laboratory of Molecular Biology (affiliated with the University of Gdansk), Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kladki 24, PL-80-822 Gdansk, Poland; [email protected]
Keywords: bioluminescence, luminescent bacteria, quorum sensing, DNA repair, detection of mutagenic pollution in marine environments
Manuscript received 15 July 2002, reviewed 13 August 2002, accepted 20 August 2002.
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.
OCEANOLOGIA, 44 (3), 2002, pp. 291–305. Open Access Article.