annelid bioluminescence

Edith Widder Widder at
Mon Feb 24 16:14:00 EST 1997

I was just forwarded some of the recent exchanges from your bulletin
board re biolum.

The most recent compilation of known bioluminescent organisms can be
found in:

1. Herring, P.J. Systematic distribution of bioluminescence in living
organisms. Journal of Bioluminescence and Chemiluminescence 1:147-163,

There are many bioluminescent polychaetes which I won't attempt to list.
Among the oligochaetes there are only two families with luminescent
genera, the Lumbricidae with Eisenia as the only known BL genus and the
Megascolecidae which includes Digaster, Diplocardia, Diplotrema,
Eutyphoeus, Fletcherodrilus, Lampito, Megascolex, Microscolex
(=Eodrillus), Octochaetus, Parachilota, Ponodrilus, Ramiella and
Spenceriella.    The emission spectrum measured from Microscolex
phosphoreus has a max at 520-530 nm.  BL is a yellow-green luminous mucus
released from dermal pores and/or the mouth and anus.  The function is
generally assumed to be defensive as in a Burglar Alarm effect where the
BL of the prey acts to attract the attention of some higher order predator
that may attack the primary predator and afford the prey an opportunity
for escape.

Dr. Edith A.  Widder
Director, Bioluminescence Department
Senior Scientist,
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution
5600 US 1 North
Fort Pierce, FL 34946
Phone:  *561 465 2400 X315
Fax: 561 468 0757
E-mail: Widder at

(*note new area code)

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