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Underwater stars

David Gruber / City University of New York

When disturbed by a physical bump or a beam of light, the tunicates Pyrosoma atlanticum emit a turquoise light. Pyrosoma means “body of fire,” and these tiny marine organisms float in the dark depths, forming spongy colonies that can reach 15 meters in length. Researchers do not yet know what benefit the glow offers, but they have recently described the biochemical mechanism behind it (Scientific Reports, October 20). The bioluminescence is created by a luciferase enzyme known as PyroLuc.

Image submitted by chemist Anderson Garbuglio de Oliveira, professor at the Oceanographic Institute (IO) of the University of São Paulo (USP)