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This bizarre-looking fish uses its bioluminescent lure to catch its prey. The animation explains how it works.
anglerfish, fish, fishes, bioluminescence, seabed, luciferin, symbiosis, bacterium, lure, animal, vertebrates, predator, biology
The anglerfish, also called the sea-devil, is a monkfish found in the coastal waters of the northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea, to a depth of about 500 m. Its length is usually about 1 m but can reach up to 2 m. It hunts for small fishes and uses its light-emitting lure to catch them.
The light of the lure is emitted by symbiotic bacteria. Symbiosis is the closed and prolonged association of two organisms, beneficial for both. The fish provides protection and nutrients for the bacteria, while the bacteria help the fish catch its prey. Light emitting bacteria contain luciferin - luciferase complexes. Luciferin is an organic molecule which emits light when oxidised. The incorporation of oxygen is catalysed by luciferase. Several types of luciferin are present in fireflies and other arthropods, for example certain crustaceans, fish, worms, jellyfish and fungi.
Besides the luciferin - luciferase complex there are other light-emitting molecules, such as the green fluorescent protein (or GFP) found in jellyfish. If the gene for the production of GFP is spliced into the genome of another organism, a mouse for example, the tissues of that organism will exhibit fluorescence.
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