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Nervous control of luminous ophiuroids

    Jerome Mallefet

Keywords: Physiology, Echinoderm , nervous control , ophiuroid

Working since 1982 in the laboratory of animal physiology at the University of Louvain, I have described the metabolic control mechanism of bioluminescence in isolated luminous organs of fish.

Since 1990 I have developed a new research program aiming to reveal the conservation of control mechanisms of bioluminescence through evolution: the study of luminous echinoderms has been initiated as a first step in this large-scale program.

A multidisciplinary study of a small cosmopolitan ophiuroid, Amphipholis squamata, enabled the description of the morphological, physiological and ecological basis of luminescence in this species. This study was realized through national and international collaborations (Italy, France, UK, USA).

Recently the comparative study of bioluminescence control in other ophiuroid species has been initiated. Although results revealed differences in control mechanisms within this echinoderm class, calcium requirement might represent a common key point in all photogenesis studied so far in ophiuroids. This new research has been realized through national and international collaborations (Italy, France, UK, Sweden, USA, Australia, New Zealand). Access to deep-sea echinoderms in good physiological condition might represent a step forward in understanding bioluminescence control and function in the phylum Echinodermata.

Studies on mesopelagic luminous fishes are still in progress and the importance of nitric oxide (NO) modulation is now being documented.

Other luminous marine organisms belonging to different phyla such as Cnidaria, Annelida and Crustacea are now under consideration in order to complete our approach to improving our understanding of the diversity of control mechanisms in bioluminescence.

Submitted: 17-May-00; updated 6-Jun-03

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Jerome Mallefet |
Laboratory of Animal Physiology | phone: +
5, Place Croix du Sud |
Louvain-la-Neuve B-1348 Belgium |
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