There seems to be a perception that most organisms in the sea use bacteria to produce their bioluminescence, but this is generally not true (see the chemistry section for a list). However luminous bacteria are quite abundant in seawater. Most are blue or blue-green (top), but Ned Ruby found a strain of Vibrio that produces a longer wavelength glow. These culture plates show this yellowish strain (left, below) next to the normal wild type. The images have not been colorized, but may not be spectrally perfect due to the settings of the camera.

Luminous bacteria make great (and inexpensive) classroom projects or demonstrations. We purchased some from Carolina Biological, and they glowed quite nicely.

Return to the Bioluminescence Web Page