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Bioluminescence idea/question

  1. Dec 12, 2007 #1
    So for some reason i was trying to go to sleep and my brain started thinking about ways to design some kind of neat light fixtures. So for awhile i was thinking about making something from LED but then the crazy notion of a bioluminescent light came to me. I realize that such a light probally would not be able to light a whole room but i was thinking that it would more or less just be a cool acent light in a dim room.

    So here is my first problem I'm trying to figure out how would i get my hands on a bacteria such as Lingulodinium polyedrum that could luminess for me. Next obviously i would have to figure out how to keep the culture alive, well, and reproducing and at the same time safe but I think the first thing to do is figure out if there is a way to get my hands on some bacteria so that from there i can figure out how to deal with it. I'm not sure if theres any king of research supplies companies that would deal with stuff like this, I,ve done a couple google searches and have yet to come up with anything yet, I would one of my professor's tomorrow but i fear they might think im crazy, plus none of them are really into this type of biology anyways so they probably wouldn't know.

    any help is apreciated thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 12, 2007 #2


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    First, Lingulodinium is not a bacteria, it's a protist/eukaryotes. It also produce toxins that can be quite dangerous. The bacteria that have bioluminescence are the Vibiro's (associated with squids) and Photorhabdus luminescens (associated with nematodes and glowing insect corpse).

    Generation of bioluminescences requires a lot of energy and, in the case of Vibrio, a certain population density. So you you need to supply fresh media (i.e. food) and remove bacteria and old media frequently. Bacteriologist use a chemostat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemostat) to do such thing. Setting a chemostat is difficult and it needs a lot of trouble shooting to have a perfect system. For example, a system for luminescences would need to have to bacteria glow at night and not during the day. It's not something you can do in a few days.

    For obtaining bacteria, it going to be difficult if your are not working in a lab and setting anything to go outside the lab. Since 9/11, there's very strict regulation with regard to use of bacteria in the USA. People have been prosecuted since 9/11 for misuse of bacteria. Most bacteria that are acquired can only be used for research purpose only.

    The American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) is where you can get bacteria.

  4. Dec 12, 2007 #3
    thanks for the info iansmith. Im definitly going to look into this a little further after finals but i think that what i can tell from from what you said and your links its not going to be easy nor cheap so this idea will probally have to be scrapped for awhile i guess. thanks though
  5. Dec 12, 2007 #4


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    There is a group here in BC making (or trying to make) diode lasers from a luminescent protein in salmon sperm - they spent ages trying to synthesise it before discovering that, at this time of year, salmon sperm is not exactly in short supply in BC.
  6. Dec 12, 2007 #5


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    Years ago you could buy ground up fireflies from scientific supply companies. If you mixed the powder with liquid it would glow for a while.

    Frankly, the glow sticks that people wear to concerts are brighter, more colorful, last longer and are much cheaper.
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