[Annelida] Re: Bioluminescent Marine Annelids

Daniel Martin Sintes via annelida%40net.bio.net (by dani from ceab.csic.es)
Mon May 16 05:19:41 EST 2011

Hi Paul,

In my opinion, the second picture you send us looks more similar to a 
cirratulid than to a syllid.
There are several polychaetes reported to be bioluminescent (you will 
find some papers here below). The reasons for flashing may be different 
(e.g. mating, defense against predation), but most usually the reasons 
are still unknown (due to lack of observations, both in the field or 
experimental). So any insight on this will certainly be very interesting.

Hope to have been useful



Nicol JAC (1953) Luminescence in polynoid worms. Journal of the Marine 
Biological Association of the United Kingdom 32:65-84
Martin N, Anctil M (1984) Luminiscece control in the tube-worm 
Chaetopterus variopedatus: role of nerve cord and photogenic gland. 
Biological Bulletin Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole 166:583-593
Bassot J-M, Nicolas M-T (1995) Bioluminescence in scale-worm photosomes: 
the photoprotein polynoidin is specific for the detection of superoxide 
radicals. Histochemistry Cell Biology 104:199-210
Nishi E, Arai H, Sasanuma S-i (2000) A new species of Chaetopterus 
(Polychaeta: Chaetopteridae) from off Tokyo Bay, Central Japan, with 
comments on its Bioluminescence. Actinia Bulletin of Manazuru Marine 
Laboratory for Science Education Faculty of Education and Human 
Sciences, Yokohama National University 13:1-12
Tsuji, F.I. & Hill, E., 1983. Repetitive cycles of bioluminescence and 
spawning in the polychaete Odontosyllis phosphorea. Biological Bulletin. 
Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, 165, 444--449.
Zörner S, Fischer A (2007) The spatial pattern of bioluminescent flashes 
in the polychaete Eusyllis blomstrandi (Annelida). Helgoland Marine 
Research 61:55-66
Herring PJ (2007) Sex with the lights on? A review of bioluminescent 
sexual dimorphism in the sea. Journal of the Marine Biological 
Association of the UK 87:829-842
Deheyn DD, Latz MI (2009) Internal and secreted bioluminescence of the 
marine polychaete Odontosyllis phosphorea (Syllidae). Invertebrate 
Biology 128:31-45
Osborn KJ, Haddock SHD, Pleijel F, Madin LP, Rouse GW (2009) Deep-Sea, 
swimming worms with luminescent "Bombs". Science 325:964
Plyuscheva M, Martin D (2009) On the morphology of elytra as luminescent 
organs in scale-worms (Polychaeta, Polynoidae). Zoosymposia 2:379--389
Osborn KJ, Rouse GC (2010) Phylogenetics of Acrocirridae and 
Flabelligeridae (Cirratuliformia, Annelida). Zoologica Scripta 40:204--219
Thuesen EV, Goetz FE, Haddock SHD (2010) Bioluminescent organs of two 
deep-sea arrow worms, Eukrohnia fowleri and Caecosagitta macrocephala, 
with further observations on bioluminescence in chaetognaths. Biol Bull 

Al 16/05/11 11:47, En/na Paul Chambers ha escrit:
> Dear All,
> A friend recently reported to me that his footprints had been glowing 
> when walking on a local beach at night on the south-east coast of 
> Jersey (British Channel Islands). Last night he took me to the spot 
> and sure enough, when the sediment (a poorly sorted gravelly sand) was 
> disturbed, there would be a series of brief but bright pin points of 
> lights, some of which glowed for a few seconds. If the sediment was 
> kicked then a shower of 'sparks' would be emited, a bit like kicking 
> an ember from a fire.
> I gathered some of the glowing sediment from several locations and 
> have just looked at them under the microscope. The only animal common 
> to all samples is a species of small annelid photos of which are attached.
> I think it may be a type of syilld but my ID guide only lists a few 
> species, none of which seem to match this one. The worm is about 4mm 
> in length and was found on the middle and lower shore; they would glow 
> when on the sediment surface but actually seemed to be most common at 
> about 2 to 5 cm depth. Last night was a full moon but my firend says 
> that he has seen them on moonless nights as well.
> Pardon the pun, but can anyone shed a bit more light on the 
> identifcation of this animal and the purpose of its bioluminesence 
> (mating?).
> Many thanks,
> Paul Chambers
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Dr. Daniel Martin

Scientific Researcher
    Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC)

   Centre d'Estudis Avancats de Blanes (CEAB)

   -> Carrer d'acces a la Cala Sant Francesc 14
   -> 17300 Blanes (Girona), Catalunya (Spain)
   -> Tel: (34) 972336101
   -> Fax: (34) 972337806
   -> WWW Institutional: http://www.ceab.csic.es
   -> WWW Personal:      http://www.ceab.csic.es/~dani
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