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BIOLUMINESCENCE

Introduction
The Glowing Sea
Chemical Reaction!
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Duncecap or helmet jelly
Periphylla periphylla
© Edie Widder HBOI

Chemical Reaction!

Bioluminescence is a cool light. This means when bioluminescence is produced, the process creates very little heat. Nearly all the energy used in a bioluminescent chemical reaction is converted to light. In contrast, only 3% of the energy used by a light bulb is converted to light. The rest, 97%, is wasted as heat.

Three components are needed for a bioluminescent chemical reaction:

Different organisms produce different versions of luciferin and luciferase, but the chemical reaction remains the same. In the presence of oxygen, luciferase acts upon luciferin to produce light.

Luciferin + Luciferase + Oxygen = LIGHT

See an animated sequence of this process in Chemisty of Bioluminescence at the Biological Sciences Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara website.

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