Environmental Aspects of Insect Bioluminescence

  • Klaus H. Hoffmann


The emission of light by organisms has a long and colorful history. Investigators from various fields of biology, chemistry, and physics have made important contributions to our understanding of bioluminescence. A great diversity of plants and animals has been found to posses the ability to emit light, and this literature has been reviewed extensively during past years (Herring 1978; Henry and Michelson 1978; Anctil 1979; Hoffmann 1981). Bioluminescence involves a chemical event followed by physical processes which convert the chemical reaction energy into light. Such luminescence is likely to occur at ordinary temperatures and without absorption of light from the environment. The energy necessary for light emission is always supplied by enzymatically catalyzed oxidation reactions (“luciferin-luciferase” reaction). The result of such light reaction pathways is a terminal chemical intermediate which can break down to form at least one excited state product (Fig. 9.1). Light is produced by the radiative transition of the product from the excited state to the ground state (for further details see, e.g., Mc Capra 1978; Wampler 1978). Of the various luminous forms that have been investigated none have received as much attention as the insects.


Light Emission Environmental Aspect Light Organ Luminescence Activity Fungus Gnat 
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Copyright information

© Springer Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Klaus H. Hoffmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Allgemeine Zoologie (Biologie I)Universität UlmUlmGermany

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