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The brilliance of bioluminescence - Leslie Kenna

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Some lucky animals are naturally endowed with bioluminescence, or the ability to create light. The firefly, the anglerfish, and a few more surprising creatures use this ability in many ways, including survival, hunting, and mating. Leslie Kenna investigates this magical glow - and our quest to replicate it.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Animator Johan Sonestedt
  • Educator Leslie Kenna
  • Director Veronica Wallenberg
  • Narrator Michelle Snow
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Additional organisms that bioluminesce.
Some fungi, such as Panellus stipticus.
Consider taking a trip to observe bioluminescent creatures. Or do armchair travel - search on the Internet for images, video ,and general information on the following: Waitomo Glowworm Caves – New Zealand and Vieques Island / Bioluminescent Bay – Puerto Rico. (The water contains single-celled bioluminescent dinoflagellates that emit a flash of blue light when agitated.) Also check out Vaadhoo Island – Maldives.
Here's an article titled, Bioluminescence in the Ocean: Origins of Biological, Chemical, and Ecological Diversity by E. A. Widder.
Original report on expressing firefly luciferase in a tobacco plant. Science.
Transient and stable expression of the firefly luciferase gene in plant cells and transgenic plants. Ow DW, DE Wet JR, Helinski DR, Howell SH, Wood KV, Deluca M.
Scientific impact of research on green fluorescent protein.
Since their invention 25 years ago, Glow Sticks have become a Halloween staple. They're perfect as safety lights because they're portable, cheap, and they emit a ghostly glow. Glow Sticks are also extremely popular on the rave scene (as are light necklaces, light glasses, and light rope), and they make an ideal lamp for SCUBA divers and campers. But, do they glow the same way animals do? Click here to find out.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Animator Johan Sonestedt
  • Educator Leslie Kenna
  • Director Veronica Wallenberg
  • Narrator Michelle Snow