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Bioluminescence of the marine annelid Chaetopterus variopedatus: mechanistic study and biotechnological applications

Grant number: 13/21814-6
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: February 01, 2014 - January 31, 2016
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Biophysics - Radiology and Photobiology
Principal researcher:Anderson Garbuglio de Oliveira
Grantee:Anderson Garbuglio de Oliveira
Home Institution: Instituto Oceanográfico (IO). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Cassius Vinicius Stevani


Bioluminescence is the emission of visible light by living organisms and is typically produced by the oxidation of a light emitting molecule - generically called luciferin - in conjunction with a catalyzing enzyme, luciferase. A remarkable diversity of marine animals is able to produce their own light, and in most of the volume of the ocean, bioluminescence is the primary source of light. Despite many luminescent marine systems have been studied in the last decades, there are still some luminous organisms that remain poorly investigated. The annelid Chaetopterus variopedatus is one of these, whose purification and characterization of the luminescent components may contribute to the understanding of several biological/evolutionary aspects in various biological systems and the development of new analytical tools. Some works report that the light emission in Chaetopterus might involve a photoprotein (luciferase containing luciferin+oxygen complex), and cofactors such as Fe2+ and peroxide. However, none of the components has been purified and characterized yet. Thus, the main goal is to create a research laboratory dedicated to basic and applied aspects of marine bioluminescence, using the marine worm Chaetopterus variopedatus as an initial model. The project aims comprise the isolation and characterization of the components involved in the process of light emission in this organism, along with mechanistic studies. In addition, the purified compounds will provide new models and frameworks for the development of fluorescent probes and biosensors for the study of biological and energy conversion processes. (AU)

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