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Old 11-03-2009, 12:19 PM #1
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Default Lasers and protozoa

Today I have noticed a strange and nice phenomenon on a ciliated protozoa. This single-celled organism is called "Blepharisma japonicum" and posses a reddish pigment which was used for chemical defence and for photoreception.
The strange thing is the following: if I put a cell under a blu ray laser (<5 mW 405 nm) for few seconds the cell becomes fluorescent! I tried with other ciliate species but this phenomenon is visible only with Blepharismas. Very very nice
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Old 11-03-2009, 12:52 PM #2
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

Do you mean you expose the bacteria to the violet radiation, remove the light and it continues to glow?

BTW do you work at a lab?
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Old 11-03-2009, 01:07 PM #3
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

Quote:
Do you mean you expose the bacteria to the violet radiation, remove the light and it continues to glow?
Yes if the light was removed (even the microscope's lamp) the cells continues to glow for few seconds. I'm preparing a small movie, when I can I upload it. Only a small clarification, these are not bacteria but protozoa
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BTW do you work at a lab?
Yes I'm a microbiologist and I work in a state University
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Old 11-03-2009, 01:08 PM #4
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

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Originally Posted by Elgranto7 View Post
BTW do you work at a lab?
Yeah same here, nice find BTW

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Old 11-03-2009, 01:25 PM #5
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

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these are not bacteria but protozoa
Yes Eukaryotes, my bad lol. I havent had a science class in about 6 months as i'm on a gap year . Going a bit rusty.. not good xD
---
The reddish pigment must be slightly phosphorescent maybe? either that or the (near) UV light triggers the activation energy required for some kind of reaction to take place causing bioluminescence in the protozoa.

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Old 11-03-2009, 03:42 PM #6
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

Quote:
The reddish pigment must be slightly phosphorescent maybe? either that or the (near) UV light triggers the activation energy required for some kind of reaction to take place causing bioluminescence in the protozoa.
This kind of protozoa never produce bioluminescence but, on the contrary, the red pigment becames toxic also for the producers under the light. Anyway this fluorescence could be a process similar to what you speak.... and compliments for your knowledge in small eukaryotes
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Old 11-09-2009, 05:16 PM #7
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

just for completeness, I tried it with green and red lasers, but I do not get any fluorescence.
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:37 PM #8
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

Likely because a bluray photon has more energy. The same is true of almost all GITD material.
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:18 AM #9
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

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Likely because a bluray photon has more energy. The same is true of almost all GITD material.
This seems to be the most logical explanation, although no one has reported, up to now, that this pigment may be fluorescent.
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Old 11-12-2009, 04:28 AM #10
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

Interesting what you can find when you always have a laser on hand
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Old 11-12-2009, 10:43 AM #11
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

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Interesting what you can find when you always have a laser on hand
I combined my two greatest interests
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Old 11-13-2009, 02:58 AM #12
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

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I combined my two greatest interests
This could actually be useful... Red paint that can be marked by UV... I think you should honestly pursue this.
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Old 11-13-2009, 11:30 AM #13
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

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This kind of protozoa never produce bioluminescence...
It really doesnt have to be capable of that in order to produce fluorescense or phosphorescense. Many of the plant pigments can fluoresce to some degree when irradiated with the proper wavelength. In plants this can serve to make photosynthesis more efficient by capturing a broader spectrum of light.

I am not familiar with this specific species, but protozoa in general can photosynthesize as well as feed - perhaps some of the pigments are still expressed to some degree even in species that rely on feeding as their primary energy source. This would also explain why they are somewhat coloured under normal lighting.
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Old 11-13-2009, 12:43 PM #14
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

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I am not familiar with this specific species, but protozoa in general can photosynthesize as well as feed
Only some protozoa are able to photosynthesize such as some flagellates or other " unicellular algae", but ciliates are heterotrophic organisms like animals and lacks chloroplast and other organelles for photosynthesis. This pigment was used by this kind of ciliate to avoid sunlight and to ward off potential predator (the pigment is toxic and could be discharged). Perhaps the induced bioluminescence could be used, by this ciliates, for other purpose, such as the cell-cell communications... some deep analisys could be performed in order to obtain an explanation...
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Old 11-13-2009, 02:31 PM #15
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

Ah right, so its actually a compound that serves multiple purposes in the organism?

I suppose it would be odd to have a protective pigment that acts like a 'sun tan' of sorts, but is also toxic to the organism itself... but then again, microbes sometimes do the crazyest things

I doubt there would be any function in communication - i suppose these organsims all live in watery environment, and chemical signalling would be the method of choice.

How hard are these things to grow? Would be cool to have a tube or flask full of them that fluoresce when you shine a bluray at it.
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Old 11-13-2009, 04:52 PM #16
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Default Re: Lasers and protozoa

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benm
I suppose it would be odd to have a protective pigment that acts like a 'sun tan' of sorts, but is also toxic to the organism itself... but then again, microbes sometimes do the crazyest things
Yes this is one of the functions of the red pigment, for this reason we are studying the possibility to use a lead compound obtained from these cells for protective sun block.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benm
I doubt there would be any function in communication - i suppose these organsims all live in watery environment, and chemical signalling would be the method of choice.
You're right but maybe it can be an interspecific communication, perhaps another mechanism for defense against other unicellular or multicellular predators. There are organisms that do it but I recognize that it is a remote possibility!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benm
How hard are these things to grow? Would be cool to have a tube or flask full of them that fluoresce when you shine a bluray at it.
It is not very difficult to cultivate these ciliates, I feed them with bacteria or other small protists. I must to try what you say, it is a nice idea... if it works I will post a picture
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