Millipede Glow Deters Would-Be Predators | Chemical & Engineering News
 
 
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Volume 89 Issue 40 | p. 34 | Concentrates
Issue Date: October 3, 2011

Millipede Glow Deters Would-Be Predators

For the first time, field tests show bioluminescence can function as a warning signal
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: millipede, bioluminescence, photoprotein, green fluorescent protein

Millipedes of the Motyxia genus can safely wander through their mountainous California habitat at night without fear of becoming a midnight snack, thanks to a photoprotein—akin to green fluorescent protein—in their exoskeletons that gives the critters a greenish-blue glow. The creatures arm themselves with a cyanide chemical defense, but there had been speculation as to whether or not the bioluminescence served to warn would-be predators, such as mice, of its noxiousness. Now, a team led . . .

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