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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 109, No: 3, 2012, Pages: 853 - 7


Bacterial bioluminescence as a lure for marine zooplankton and fish

Zarubin M, Belkin S, Ionescu M, Genin A

Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences, Eilat 88103, Israel.

Abstract

The benefits of bioluminescence for nonsymbiotic marine bacteria have not been elucidated fully. One of the most commonly cited explanations, proposed more than 30 y ago, is that bioluminescence augments the propagation and dispersal of bacteria by attracting fish to consume the luminous material. This hypothesis, based mostly on the prevalence of luminous bacteria in fish guts, has not been tested experimentally. Here we show that zooplankton that contacts and feeds on the luminescent bacterium Photobacterium leiognathi starts to glow, and demonstrate by video recordings that glowing individuals are highly vulnerable to predation by nocturnal fish. Glowing bacteria thereby are transferred to the nutritious guts of fish and zooplankton, where they survive digestion and gain effective means for growth and dispersal. Using bioluminescence as bait appears to be highly beneficial for marine bacteria, especially in food-deprived environments of the deep sea.

Keywords:bioluminescence for nonsymbiotic marine bacteria,bioluminescence augments the propagation,luminescent bacterium Photobacterium leiognathi.


 

 
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