Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Fireflies: Control of Flashing

  • Helen Ghiradella
  • John T. Schmidt
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_3812

The remarkable ability of biological systems to control light is particularly evident in the phenomenon of bioluminescence, the production of light by living organisms. Many bioluminescent organisms “borrow” their light from luminescent bacteria that are cultured and maintained in special structures. Others produce their own light and in the insects, modulation of these lantern systems runs the control gamut from steady glows to the complex flash patterns of adult fireflies (see Buck, 1948, for a classic and authoritative review of firefly lantern capabilities, and Lloyd [this publication] for a taxonomic and behavioral review of firefly biology). Over literally centuries of study, especially of the lampyrid beetles Photuris and Photinus, scientists made great progress in working out the chemistry and neurobiology of the firefly light reaction. In basic chemical terms, a substrate, firefly luciferin, complexes with an enzyme, firefly luciferase, and ATP in the presence of Mg2+; once...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen Ghiradella
    • 1
  • John T. Schmidt
    • 1
  1. 1.The University at AlbanyAlbanyUSA