Why are Noctiluca flourescent?

Prof Patterson protsvil at EXTRO.UCC.SU.OZ.AU
Fri Sep 23 21:59:17 EST 1994

On 23 Sep 1994 Kjell.Magne.Fagerbakke at net.bio.net wrote:

> I am not asking for florezing bacteria creating light by ATP
> driven things. I wounder why they lights up when the
> water is shaken.
> All ecological/ evolutional explainations will also be 
> apreaciated
> Kjell Magne Fagerbakke
	We at protsville, sydney were talking about this about a month 
ago.  The "cutest" hypothesis was that the Phosphescence was a device for 
scaring predators.  Noctiluca is kind of big for a prot and some of its 
potential predators are things with eyes (fish larvae etc.).  
Furthermore, water disturbance would be a plausible way for a prot to 
detect a nearby predator.  Sudden Colourful displays in bigger organisms 
are often explained by the David Attenboroughs of this world as "predator 
dazzlers" (eg, the flash pads on the back legs of some frogs).
	This seems to me to be a reasonable explanation but of course is utterly 
untested. I rather doubt that very much experimental work has been done 
on the effectivness of "predator dazzling devices" at all.  Still it 
makes a good bedtime story for the kiddies.


Alastair Simpson.

Protsville, Australia


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