Get access

Bacterial Bioluminescence, Bioelectromagnetics and Function


Corresponding author email: (David T. Pooley)


The biological functions of light emission in bacterial bioluminescence are not always obvious, especially if the bacteria are in a free-living mode. Experimental evidence suggests that light emission confers benefit to the bacteria themselves such as through photoreactivation and involves as much as 20% of cell energy metabolism. A theoretical model shows if the effect is mediated solely by light then cells should be luminescent at both high and low cell densities, therefore raising doubt over the photoreactivation hypothesis and suggesting that another cofactor is involved. It has been postulated that bioelectromagnetics may be involved in biological processes and be involved with coordinated activity in quorate cells. The cell densities associated with autoinduction coincide with a large change in coupling efficiency in the millimeter and submillimeter spectral region. In this paper it is suggested that one function of bioluminescence is as a pump, involving millimeter and submillimeter wave coupling that is of benefit to the quorum. This may be related to the observation that millimeter wave radiation exposure has been reported to induce changes in DNA conformation and possibly gene expression. Agents that change DNA conformation in bioluminescent bacteria can cause increases in light emission. This work may have implications for electromagnetic fields as quorum-quenching agents.