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First description of neural control mechanisms in bioluminescence of Tomopteris helgolandica (Annelida, Polychaeta)
Gouveneaux, A.; Mallefet, J. (2012). First description of neural control mechanisms in bioluminescence of Tomopteris helgolandica (Annelida, Polychaeta). Luminescence 27(2): 118-119
In: Luminescence. Wiley: Chichester, Sussex, UK. ISSN 1522-7235, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    VLIZ: Open Repository 257891 [ OMA ]
Document type: Summary


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  • Gouveneaux, A., more
  • Mallefet, J., more

    Transparency is a common passive cryptic adaptation in pelagic environment.[1] In fact, by reducing light reflection and light scattering, biological transparency makes organism invisible. Paradoxally, many gelatinous zooplankton species are able to produce visible light.[2] So, what ecological advantage(s) bioluminescence could provide to such organisms? The model studied here is Tomopteris helgolandica, a transparent planktonic worm collected by trawling between 250 and 300 m depth in fjords near Bergen (Norway). The specimens were picked out and maintained during few days in sea water containers placed in a dark cold room. The bioluminescence potential was measured on pieces of three pairs of parapods from anaesthetized organisms. Each preparation was stocked in cold artificial sea water up to chemical induction of bioluminescence response.Available data about tomopterids bioluminescence were limited to anecdotic observations and morphological descriptions, poorly documented.[3] In way of having a global view of its bioluminescent potential, different aspects of the light emission process are currently explored, including neural basis of physiological control. After a screening of major pharmacological components, investigation has been oriented in cholinergic control hypothesis. It has been confirmed by dose-dependent emission of light in response to carbachol stimulation (Fig. 1). Inhibitory effect of tubocurarine on light emission suggested that nicotinic receptors were involved in the signal transmission pathway leading to light emission (Fig. 2). These results constitute the first data about neural control mechanisms in bioluminescence of a pelagic worm.Two annelid families have been previously studied and both concerned benthic species.[4] Only pharmacological investigations have been conducted so far but these results will be completed by electrophysiological and immunohistochemical approaches.

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