, Volume 44, Issue 7, pp 586-593

Regulatory aspects of low intensity photon emission

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Photon emission from unicellular and multicellular organisms has been a subject of study for many decennia. In contrast to the well-known phenomenon of bioluminescence originating in luciferin-luciferase reactions, low intensity emission in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum has been found in almost every species studied so far. At present, the nomenclature of this phenomenon has not crystallized and it is referred to by a variety of names, such as mitogenetic radiation29, dark luminescence7, low-level chemiluminescence20, 36, and biophotons57. Particular attention has been focussed on the relationship between photon emission and the regulation of various aspects of cellular metabolism, although in many cases quantitative data are still lacking. Throughout the history of this field of research the question of a functional biological role of the low intensity emission has been repeatedly raised; this is reflected, for instance, in the heterogeneity of the terms used to describe it. The discussion concerns the possible participation of photons of low intensity in intra- and intercellular communication. This paper reviews literature on the metabolic regulation of low intensity emission, as well as the regulation of photon emission initiated by external light. Furthermore, recent data are discussed with respect to a possible biocommunicative function of low intensity photon emission.