Earthworm’s Glow Unearthed | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 92 Issue 17 | p. 26 | Concentrates
Issue Date: April 28, 2014

Earthworm’s Glow Unearthed

A new type of luciferin gives Siberian worm a blue hue
Department: Science & Technology | Collection: Climate Change, Life Sciences
News Channels: Biological SCENE, Organic SCENE
Keywords: bioluminescence, luciferin, natural products, NMR spectroscopy, total synthesis

In the forest soils of Siberia, there is a tiny worm that will emit blue light if given a little tickle. The critter, known scientifically as Fridericia heliota, gets its glow via the oxidation of a previously unknown luciferin compound facilitated by a luciferase enzyme. This is the same mechanism that many bioluminescent creatures, including fireflies and certain jellyfish, use to produce so-called cold light. To date, only a handful of luciferin analogs have been . . .

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