The Angels Glow: new explorations in bacterial bioluminescence I


Bioluminescence is the remarkable ability of living organisms to emit light and occurs widely in nature including in some fungi and bacteria.  Bacterial bioluminescence gave rise to some earliest insights in medical microbiology when it was first observed in 1825 on two discarded corpses at The Anatomy School in London. When the luminous microorganisms were scraped from the corpses it was found that they could make
others glow providing one of the very first practical demonstrations of the
role of microorganisms and their transmission. More recently, in the First World War, it was noticed amongst soldiers with serious wound infections that those who survived, frequently had a feature in common, wounds that glowed in the dark. Because this
mysterious phenomenon was associated with better survival prospects it became known as the “Angel’s Glow”.  We know today that this effect was most likely to have been caused by the bacterium Photorhabdus luminescens which is bioluminescent and produces a variety of antibiotics. This is an image of an agar plate culture of the aforementioned bacterium showing bioluminescence. A new adventure begins…..

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