Luciferins (from the Latin "lucifer", "light-bringer") are a class of light-emitting biological pigments found in organisms capable of bioluminescence.

Types of luciferin

Luciferins are a class of small-molecule substrate each for their corresponding protein enzyme luciferase. Luciferins are oxidized in the presence of the enzyme luciferase to produce oxyluciferin and energy in the form of light. There are five general types of luciferins.

Firefly luciferin

Firefly luciferin is the luciferin found in fireflies. It is the substrate of luciferase (EC Johns Hopkins University synthesized luciferin, the substance which lights the tail of the firefly, furthering research on ATP, the primary energy source in biological action (1962).

Bacterial luciferin

Bacterial luciferin is a type of luciferin found in bacteria, some squid and fish.It consists of a long-chain aldehyde and a reduced riboflavin phosphate.

Dinoflagellate luciferin

Dinoflagellate luciferin is a chlorophyll derivative and is found in dinoflagellates, which are often responsible for the phenomenon of nighttime ocean phosphorescence. A very similar type of luciferin is found in some types of euphausiid shrimp.


Vargulin is found in certain ostracods and deep-sea fish; specifically, Poricthys. It is an imidazolopyrazine.


Coelenterazine is found in radiolarians, ctenophores, cnidarians, squid, copepods, chaetognaths, fish and shrimp. It is the light-emitting molecule in the protein aequorin.

External links

* [ University of California at Santa Barbara article] showing major luciferin types

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Luciferin — Lu*cif er*in (l[=oo]*s[i^]f [ e]r*[i^]n), n. (Biochem.) any of several substances found in luminescent organisms (such as the firefly, {Photinus pyralis}) which, when oxidized, produces an almost heatless light. It was first isolated from… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • luciferin — [lo͞o sif′ər in] n. [L lucifer (see LUCIFER) + IN1] a substance in luminescent organisms, as fireflies, that produces light by combining with oxygen in the presence of luciferase …   English World dictionary

  • Luciferin — Luciferine sind unterschiedliche Naturstoffe, die in verschiedenen biolumineszenten Organismen zur Erzeugung von Licht genutzt werden. In Gegenwart des entsprechenden Luciferase Enzyms reagieren sie mit Sauerstoff (Oxidation). Bei der Veränderung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • luciferin — /looh sif euhr in/, n. Biochem. a pigment occurring in luminescent organisms, as fireflies, that emits light when undergoing oxidation. [1885 90; < L lucifer (see LUCIFER) + IN2] * * * ▪ biochemistry       in biochemistry, any of several organic… …   Universalium

  • luciferin — liuciferinas statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis Medžiaga, sukelianti bioliuminescenciją. atitikmenys: angl. luciferin rus. люциферин …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • luciferin — noun Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary, from Latin lucifer light bearing Date: 1888 any of various organic substances in luminescent organisms (as fireflies) that upon oxidation produce a virtually heatless light …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • luciferin — a substance concerned in bioluminescence, being oxidized in the presence of the enzyme luciferase to produce oxyluciferin and light …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • luciferin — n. [L. lux, light; ferre, to bring] A substance found in luminescent organisms that, in the presence of the enzyme luciferase, oxidizes and produces light …   Dictionary of invertebrate zoology

  • luciferin — noun Any of a class of polycyclic heterocycles that are responsible for the bioluminescence of fireflies, being converted to oxyluciferin by luciferase in the process …   Wiktionary

  • Luciferin — Lu|ci|fe|rin 〈n. 11; unz.〉 = Luziferin * * * Lu|ci|fe|rin [lat. lucifer = Licht bringend; ↑ in (3)], das; s, e: Sammelbez. für unterschiedlich strukturierte Substanzen aus Leuchtkäfern, Fischen u. a. Meerestieren sowie Bakterien, die in… …   Universal-Lexikon

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.