Bioluminescence is the production of light from living organisms, a phenomenon which is commonplace in the ocean. For polychaetes, because many pelagic species are difficult to catch in good condition, they remain almost completely unstudied compared to coastal species that are more easily captured by researchers. In this work, bioluminescence spectra are reported in vivo from three pelagic species, a blue-green light-emitting specimen of Tomopteris sp. (Phyllodocidae), a genus whose species are generally reported to emit yellow light, and two Flabelligeridae, Poeobius meseres, and Flota flabelligera. All three species generate light along the whole length of the body, at distinct spots for F. flabelligera and Tomopteris sp. The light emission peaks are very similar to each other, ranging from 493 to 497 nm, similar to the in vitro bioluminescence peak for the more thoroughly studied Odontosyllis enopla. This wavelength is red-shifted compared to many other pelagic animals, but blue-shifted compared to polynoid worms. This is the first report of bioluminescence from F. flabelligera and P. meseres and the first reported spectrum of a blue-light-emitting Tomopteris sp from the Pacific.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
WRF would like to thank O. Shimomura for helpful advice. We thank the ROV pilots and ship crews for their expert operations.
Compliance with ethical standards
This study was funded by the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences (R01-GM087198) to SHDH. This research was also supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation through the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.
Conflict of interest
All authors declare no conflict of interest.
Animals were collected under permit SC-4029 issued to SHD Haddock by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. All animals were treated humanely, though species used are unprotected and unregulated, and no vertebrates or octopus were used, so the International and NIH ethics guidelines are not invoked.
Bassot JM, Nicolas MT (1995) Bioluminescence in scale-worm photosomes: the photoprotein polynoidin is specific for the detection of superoxide radicals. Histochem Cell Biol 104(3):199–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Branchini BR, Behney CE, Southworth TL, Rawat R, Deheyn DD (2014) Chemical analysis of the luminous slime secreted by the marine worm Chaetopterus (annelida, polychaeta). Photochem Photobiol 90(1):247–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Deheyn DD, Latz MI (2009) Internal and secreted bioluminescence of the marine polychaete Odontosyllis phosphorea (Syllidae). Invert Biol 128(1):31–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Deheyn DD, La Enzor, Dubowitz A, Urbach JS, Blair D (2013) Optical and physicochemical characterization of the luminous mucous secreted by the marine worm Chaetopterus sp. Physiol Biochem Zool 86(6):702–705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Francis WR, Powers ML, Haddock SHD (2014) Characterization of an anthraquinone fluor from the bioluminescent, pelagic polychaete Tomopteris. Luminescence 29(8):1135–1140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gouveneaux A, Mallefet J (2013) Physiological control of bioluminescence in a deep-sea planktonic worm, Tomopteris helgolandica. J Exp Biol 216(Pt 22):4285–4289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gouveneaux A, Flood PR, Mallefet J (2016) Unexpected diversity of bioluminescence in planktonic worms. Luminescence. doi:10.1002/bio.3192Google Scholar
Haddock SH, Moline MA, Case JF (2010) Bioluminescence in the sea. Annu Rev Mar Sci 2(1):443–493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haddock SHD, Case JF (1999) Bioluminescence spectra of shallow and deep-sea gelatinous zooplankton: ctenophores, medusae and siphonophores. Mar Biol 133(3):571–582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harvey EN (1952) Bioluminescence, 1st edn. Academic Press Inc, New YorkGoogle Scholar
Hastings J (1996) Chemistries and colors of bioluminescent reactions: a review. Gene 173(1):5–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Latz MI, Frank TM, Case JF (1988) Spectral composition of bioluminescence of epipelagic organisms from the Sargasso sea. Mar Biol 98(3):441–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Loening AM, Wu AM, Gambhir SS (2007) Red-shifted Renilla reniformis luciferase variants for imaging in living subjects. Nat Methods 4(8):641–643CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Malikova NP, Stepanyuk GA, Frank LA, Markova SV, Vysotski ES, Lee J (2003) Spectral tuning of obelin bioluminescence by mutations of Trp92. FEBS Lett 554(1–2):184–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nicol JAC (1957a) Spectral composition of the light of Chaetopterus. J Mar Biol Association U. K. 36(03):629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nicol JAC (1957b) Spectral composition of the light of polynoid worms. J mar biol Ass UK 36(6260):529–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Osborn KJ, Haddock SHD, Rouse GW (2011) Swima (Annelida, Acrocirridae), holopelagic worms from the deep Pacific. Zoolog J Linn Soc 163(3):663–678CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Petushkov VN, Ma Dubinnyi, Tsarkova AS, Rodionova NS, Baranov MS, Kublitski VS, Shimomura O, Yampolsky IV (2014) A novel type of luciferin from the Siberian luminous earthworm Fridericia heliota: structure elucidation by spectral studies and total synthesis. Angewandte Chemie (International Ed) 53(22):5566–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar