Scientists Identify Molecule Illuminating Glow-in-the-dark Mushroom

Scientists Identify Molecule Illuminating Glow in the dark Mushroom

The discovery of the molecule illuminating glow-in-the-dark mushrooms, has potential application in imaging technology.

Scientists have identified the molecule that enables bioluminescent mushrooms to glow. This is expected to lead to new possibilities for harnessing fungal bioluminescence in analytical and imaging technologies.

A wide range of organism exhibit bioluminescence, including around 80 different known species of bioluminescent fungi across the globe.

Scientists have discovered that light emission from living organisms is possible due to the presence of a molecule called luciferin. When luciferin and its enzyme partner, commonly known as luciferase, mix together with the energy and oxygen present in the atmosphere, a chemical reaction is triggered. This reaction in turn, produces a very excited molecule— oxyluciferin— a light releasing molecule, which calm down to its ground state.

It has been found that the luciferin-luciferase is well-characterized pathway in bioluminescent insects, bacteria, and a few marine animals, however, not in fungi.

A team of researchers, headed by Zinaida Kaskova worked towards identifying the molecule that was responsible for the illuminous characteristic in fungi. They elucidated the component involved in the luciferin-luciferase pathway, leading to the discovery of the fungal equivalent of oxyluciferin. This was done by analyzing extracts of Neonothopanus gardneri, which is a fluorescent mushroom native to Brazil and Neonothopanus nambi, a poisonous mushroom found in the rainforests of southern Vietnam.

The authors of the research study propose that fungal luciferase may be uninhibited, with the potential to interact with multiple derivatives of fungal luciferin, which in turn, leads to changes in intensity and color of the emission.

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