|Bioluminescence: Nature and science at work|
Zimmer, M. (2016). Bioluminescence: Nature and science at work. Twenty-First Century Books: Minneapolis. ISBN 978-1-4677-5784-3. 72 pp.
Luminescence > Bioluminescence
Green fluorescent protein
On pages that alternate between black and lime green, Zimmer takes readers into the world of bioluminescence, or the production and emission of light by living creatures. After providing a brief explanation of how 19th-century physiologist Raphaël Dubois discovered that bioluminescence is a product of the enzyme luciferase and the molecule luciferin, Zimmer presents many fascinating examples of animals making use of this ability. The bristlemouth fish uses light-emitting organs on its head and stomach to blend in with water, deep-sea shrimp vomit luminescent slime as a defense mechanism, and dragonfish produce red lights under their eyes to find prey that are unable to perceive the color red. An entire chapter dedicated to fireflies, which flash lights in order to find a mate, focuses on the communication between males and females, as well as how females use bioluminescence to attract—and then eat—males of other species. A chapter on biofluorescence, the capability of some fish to absorb light and immediately give it off as a lower energy green or red light, is also included. Perhaps most intriguing of all is the description of the ways in which fluorescent proteins are used to study diseases such as parasitic illnesses, bird flu, and malaria. Words included in the text aren't highlighted or italicized to indicate which are defined in the glossary. However, there is ample back matter. VERDICT Featuring top-notch photos, this succinct presentation of a complex topic will make a stimulating addition to most science collections.