Difference between revisions of "Explorations in BioLuminescence"

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== General Introduction ==
== General Introduction ==
Bioluminescence is visible light made by living creatures. Such creatures are rare on land but extremely common in the oceans. see more on Marine Bioluminescence by BioScience | Explained here: [[File:BiolumEN.pdf]]
Bioluminescence is visible light made by living creatures. Such creatures are rare on land but extremely common in the oceans. see more on Marine Bioluminescence by BioScience | Explained here: [[File:BiolumEN.pdf]]
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== Luminous Workshopology ==
== Luminous Workshopology ==
interested Brian Degger
interested Brian Degger

Revision as of 13:16, 31 July 2014

DIY bioluminescent mushroom :-)

From fireflies to stinky squids... the future is bright

General Introduction


Bioluminescence is visible light made by living creatures. Such creatures are rare on land but extremely common in the oceans. see more on Marine Bioluminescence by BioScience | Explained here: File:BiolumEN.pdf

Bioluminescence is not the same as phosphorescence

Even though Steinbeck, Hemmingway and even Darwin referred to the “phosphorescence of the sea” this is a literary rather than a scientific description. Phosphorescence is the delayed emission of light from a source that has been excited by light. Examples include glow-in-the-dark paints and toys.

Bioluminescence is not the same as fluorescence

As with phosphorescence light emission is stimulated by light not by a chemical reaction. With fluorescence the excitation wavelength is always shorter, that is, higher energy, than the emission wavelength and emission ceases as soon as the excitation source is turned off. Some of this confusion may have arisen because some, but not all, luciferins are fluorescent and a few pass their excitation energy along to fluorescent proteins like GFP.

Isolation of luminous bacteria from fish or squid

from bioScience | Explained, download File:BioSci expl PhotoLumen.pdf

P. phosphoreum is one of the commonest spoilage organisms of fish such as cod. It is not known to cause disease, but there are reports of people being startled by glowing fish fingers in the fridge!

To isolate glowing bacteria from fish, obtain a freshly-caught seafish or squid. It is very important that the fish has not been frozen or washed in fresh water. It is also better if the fish has not been stored on ice. Place the fish in a container with 3% NaCl solution. The liquid should be deep enough to come half way up the fish.

Cover the container and store the fish for 24 hours at about 12–15 °C. Note: if this temperature is difficult to achieve, place the fish in a fridge at about 4 °C for 48–72 hours.

After incubation, take the container with the fish into a dark room. When your eyes have been adopted to dark, light spots will be visible on the skin of the fish. Use a sterile toothpick or disposable sterile loop or needle to aseptically transfer the brightest spots onto sterile fish enrichment agar plates. Tip: some people find it useful to use a dim red lamp (e.g., a photographic safety lamp) for this step. Turn the fish away from the lamp so that the glowing colonies are in the shade and therefore visible.

Transfer the cultures to new agar plates every second day if you are incubating them at temperatures around 12 °C or once a week if you are storing them in a fridge. P. phosphoreum will grow at 4 °C; V. fischeri will not. By selecting the brightest colonies when inoculating, it should be possible to isolate a pure culture.

Fish enrichment medium

  • Boil 250 g fish meat in 1 l of water.
  • Add 30 g NaCl and sieve to remove solids.
  • Add 10 g peptone, 10 ml glycerol and 1 g yeast extract.
  • Adjust the pH to 7.
  • Autoclave at 121 °C for 15–20 minutes.

For a solid medium add 15–20 g of agar to every litre of broth.

Safety note Several species of Vibrio are pathogenic. The chances of inadvertently isolating pathogens in this procedure can be reduced by using at least 3% salt solution and incubating fish and plates at no more than 15 °C. Human pathogens are unlikely to grow under such conditions.

Further links


For various recipes on making agar growth plates check Agar is the Media

tips for Shroom Cultures

Bioluminescent Algae

from [1] Microorganisms 2013

Material for growing dinoflagellates:

A clear growing container (shallow containers with lots of surface area)Sanitation is necessary so your batch doesn‘t crash. REALLY wash out the grow container, make sure there is absolutely no residue left. Culture flasks -- Sterilized glassware if autoclave is available, otherwise use disposable tissue culture flasks. If you use sterile media and glassware, your cultures will continue forever; every month pour about 1/4 of the culture into some new medium. If you can‘t maintain sterile culture conditions, the cells will last for a few weeks to a month before bacteria overgrow the culture.


  • Use purified water as tap water can contain chlorine or other things that might kill your batch.
  • No tap water, tap water may contain metal ions that are detrimental to algal growth.
  • Temperature: 22° C

Sea Salt from pet or aquarium stores

Light and timer

  • Indirect natural light is good, but not direct sunlight.
  • Illumination with cool-white fluorescent lamps
  • Fluorescent light, either cool white or full spectrum, is also sufficient. Avoid incandescent lamps, as they can overheat the water and kill your algae.
  • A grow light or an aquarium/terriarium light
  • 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness every 24 hours

Nutrients (Growth medium)

A Starter Culture

  • A15 Bioluminescent Algae 250ml cultures from Sciento.
  • Planktonic marine, bioluminescent dinoflagellate (Pyrocystis sp.)

Supplier of Dinoflagellates:

Art / Design / Products using dinoflagellates

Further links

Hacking Fireflies



Artists working with the topic of firefly

DIY Bioluminescent Dormice

Luminous Workshopology

interested Brian Degger

  • --- the future is bright ---
  • Why the hell should everything glow?

Phototaxis is a kind of taxis, or locomotory movement, that occurs when a whole organism moves towards or away from stimulus of light.This is advantageous for phototrophic organisms as they can orient themselves most efficiently to receive light for photosynthesis. (wikipedia.org)

Phototropism is the movement or growth of organisms in response to lights or colors of light (e.g.- the sunflower) (wikipedia.org)

Heliotropism is the motion of plant parts (flowers or leaves) in response to the direction of the sun. A. P. de Candolle called this phenomenon in any plant heliotropism (1832). It was renamed phototropism in 1892, because it is a response to light rather than to the sun. (wikipedia.org)

Towards a mini citizen science festival in Zuri

starting with experimentations

Planning the events

BioLuminescence@Corner's College

other links and reference

Nice poster

Poster designed by Seattle-based artist Eleanor Lutz

Classic publication on using bioluminescence to lighting: "Sur l'éclairage par la lumière froide physiologique, dite lumière vivante", Raphael Dubois, Issue J. Phys. Theor. Appl., Volume 9, Number 1, 1900, Page(s) 589 - 591