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Bioluminescent Organs of Two Deep-Sea Arrow Worms, Eukrohnia fowleri and Caecosagitta macrocephala, With Further Observations on Bioluminescence in Chaetognaths

ERIK V. THUESEN, FREYA E. GOETZ and STEVEN H. D. HADDOCK
Biological Bulletin
Vol. 219, No. 2 (October 2010), pp. 100-111
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27898996
Page Count: 12
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Bioluminescent Organs of Two Deep-Sea Arrow Worms, Eukrohnia fowleri and Caecosagitta macrocephala, With Further Observations on Bioluminescence in Chaetognaths
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Abstract

Bioluminescence in the deep-sea chaetognath Eukrohnia fowleri is reported for the first time, and behavioral, morphological, and chemical characteristics of bioluminescence in chaetognaths are examined. Until this study, the only known species of bioluminescent chaetognath was Caecosagitta macrocephala. The luminescent organ of that species is located on the ventral edge of each anterior lateral fin, whereas that of E. fowleri runs across the center of the tail fin on both dorsal and ventral sides. Scanning electron microscopy showed that the bioluminescent organs of both species consist of hexagonal chambers containing elongate ovoid particles—the organelles holding bioluminescent materials. No other luminous organism is known to use hexagonal packing to hold bioluminescent materials. Transmission electron microscopy of particles from C. macrocephala revealed a densely packed paracrystalline matrix punctuated by globular inclusions, which likely correspond to luciferin and luciferase, respectively. Both species use unique luciferases in conjunction with coelenterazine for light emission. Luciferase of C. macrocephala becomes inactive after 30 min, but luciferase of E. fowleri is highly stable. Although C. macrocephala has about 90 times fewer particles than E. fowleri, it has a similar bioluminescent capacity (total particle volume) due to its larger particle size. In situ observations of C. macrocephala from a remotely operated vehicle revealed that the luminous particles are released to form a cloud. The discovery of bioluminescence in a second chaetognath phylogenetically distant from the first highlights the importance of bioluminescence among deep-sea organisms.

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