[Photo] Glowing Catsharks: Biofluorescence at Work

(J. Sparks, D. Gruber, and V. Pieribone / National Science Foundation)

A green biofluorescent chain catshark (Scyliorhinus retifer), studied as part of the NSF-funded study, “The Covert World of Biofluorescence.” The study was the first to report evidence of widespread biofluorescence among fish. (J. Sparks, D. Gruber, and V. Pieribone / National Science Foundation)

Anyone who has heard of GFP should know that some marine organisms – such as corals and jellyfish – can become fluorescent under certain conditions. However, “The Covert World of Fish Biofluorescence” (published 8 January 2014, and freely available here) has shown that fluorescent proteins are far more phylogenetically widespread than was previously believed. Of particular interest was biofluorescence among fish. Using some blue light and specialized long-pass filters, a group of researchers from the American Museum of Natural History and some universities “identified 16 orders, 50 families, 105 genera, and more than 180 species of biofluorescent fishes.” Among the species found to display fluorescent activity is Scyliorhinus retifer – the little guy pictured above.

Read more at the NSF Website or the paper itself.

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