When And How You Get the Firefly Ability

When and how did you get the firefly ability? The Research Institute for Basic Biology (Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture) and the Chubu University research group decipher the firefly genome and revealed that it gained the enzyme necessary for luminescence by gene duplication and mutation. The paper was published on the e-Life online science magazine on 16th.

The firefly luminescent substrate “luciferin” oxidized and catalyzed by the enzymeluciferase” was known, but the process of acquiring these capabilities was unknown.

Research group’s Shigenobu Shigenobu · Associate Professor of Basic Biology Laboratory (Genome Biology) et al. Decoded the female Heike firefly genome. The genes of fatty acid metabolizing enzymes, which also exist in organisms that do not emit light, have been repeatedly duplicated and have been found to mutate to luciferase.

Also, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the genome of North American firefly, evidence of common evolution with Haye firefly was seen. A common ancestor before both species diverged 105 million years ago is considered to have acquired luciferase.

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