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Bioluminescence Under Stress

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Bioluminescence is a common form of communication in the ocean. Here we study the bioluminescence on a single-cell level, aiming to understand the response to mechanical stimulation. In our experiments, the dinoflagellate Pyrocystis lunula was immobilized via micro-pipette aspiration. We impose pressure on the cell, via a submerged impinging liquid jet or another pipette. We show that the induced stress on the cell membrane results in a local elastic deformation. As a result, a series of chemical signaling events occur that eventually yields to light production in sub-cellular compartments. Besides experiments, we propose a counterpart model based on a system of ODEs that includes the viscoelasticity of the membrane.

This talk is part of the DAMTP BioLunch series.

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