Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living body resulting from a chemical reaction during which chemical energy is converted to light energy.
The word originates from the Greek word “bios” meaning life and the Latin word “lumen” meaning light.
Bioluminescence is a type of luminescence, producing a so-called cold light, because less than 20% of the light generates heat. It should not be confused with the fluorescence, phosphorescence or light refracted.
Bioluminescence may be generated by symbiotic organisms housed within a larger organism. The chemical compound causing luminescence is luciferin. It emits light by being oxidized due to the intervention of the luciferase enzyme. The chemical reaction may occur inside or outside of the cell. In bacteria, the expression of genes associated with bioluminescence is controlled by an operon called lux operon.