Revealed the secret of the luminescence mechanism of sea snail


04/01/2011

Two U.S. scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, presented the first details about the mysterious flashes, blinding bioluminescent light produced by a little-known sea snail.

Dmitry Dehein (Dimitri Deheyn) and Nerida Wilson (Nerida Wilson) from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography studied the form of small marine periwinkles "clusterwink", usually living in dense groups or groups at rocky coasts. These snails are known for light, but the researchers found that emits a focused beam of light, the animal uses its shell to scatter and spread bright green bioluminescent light in all directions.

The researchers, who described their details in the online version of the Protocols of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences), reported that the ability of species of snails Hinea brasiliana glow can be deterrent to repel potential predators by using diffused bioluminescent light, and thus creating the illusion large animal.

Results of experiments conducted in the Experimental Scripps Aquarium devices showed that H. brasiliana began to glow, sensing the danger, and alarmed by the presence of floating shrimp or crab, which was placed in an aquarium with a snail to test reaction. Wilson collected the snails used in the analysis, in Australia and collaborated with Deheinym to characterize the bioluminescence.

"This is a rare occurrence for the snails that live at the bottom of the sea, produce bioluminescence" - said Wilson. "But the most surprising thing is that this snail has a shell that extends the signal with such efficiency."

The opening mechanism that allows the snail to spread its light, caused surprise of researchers, because this type of clusterwink has an opaque, yellowish shells that would seem to inhibit the transmission of light. But in fact, when the snail produces green bioluminescence from its body, the shell acts as a mechanism to facilitate special light scattering of only one particular color.

Dehein informed that this property gives rise to a keen interest in optics, biological research design and industrial production.

"The possibility of the diffusion of light that we see in this snail is much better than the already known material" - said Dehein, an expert of the Research Division of Marine Biology at Scripps. "The next thing on which we will focus our attention, will be how the shell is able to do it, that would be an important discovery for the construction and development of materials with improved optical capabilities."

Original: Sciencedaily Translation: M. Potter


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