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The instance of bioluminescence is both mysterious and relatively common Most of us have observed a meandering firefly on a hazy summer evening Few of us have understood what processes were going on in the firefly abdomen that resulted in the emission of light by a living organism The phenomenon of bioluminescence is not limited to fireflies and glowworms In fact bioluminescence affects many different types of species It helps them survive and can be emitted through many different means This paper will explore instances of bioluminescence its diversity and its evolution In addition it will expand on history of the study of bioluminescence its chemical mechanisms and the actual release of light The purpose of this paper is to review important aspects of bioluminescence as well as to generate interest in this fascinating subject The phenomenon of bioluminescence can be observed in many different settings Animals that emit light include bacteria dinoflagellates fungi fish insects shrimp and squid Bacteria are the most abundant of bioluminescent species Most free-living species live in the ocean Meighen 1991 Scientist Peter Herring has worked extensively with marine bioluminescence In the water bioluminescent tissues can be point source emitters or external glandular organs of bacterial symbionts Herring 1985 External glandular organs where a luminous secretion is released from an opening in the shell can be found on crustaceans Symbiont glands can be found on fish or cephalopods The luminescent bacteria harbored in the gland will produce light for the host Anglerfish have been known to expel their symbionts in a luminous cloud As for luminous tissue directly in an organism positioning on the periphery of the animal is common Luminous tissue such as photocytes can be sighted on dorsal and ventral areas and down the fin rays Herring 1985 For example marine annelids named polynoid scale worms have photocytes for ventral epithelial cells They are unique in that their scales flash rapidly when they are attacked When escaping
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