Menu
Modern Biology
Muscle Disease Gene Identified in Fish
Bird Flu Mutation Risk
Platelets Help Tackle Bacteria
Untangling The Model Muddle
Cloning - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Unpacking the Human Genome Project
Does a Hot Mint Still Taste Cold?
Do Bald Men get all the Girls?
Why Plants Make Caffeine
Turning your Brain into Blood - How Stem Cells Work
The Microchimera Mixture
Forgetful Flies - A tale of two halves (of the brain)
The Smelly World of Mice and Men!
How animals develop from an embryo
Ricin : The Secret Assassin
Why drink Wine ?
Genetically Modified (GM) Plants
Big Fish, Little Sea
Something in the Air
What's On The Menu ?
What is the purpose of sexual reproduction?
Therapeutic Cloning, and Stem Cell Research
What is Living in my Mouth?
Genes for Bigger Brains
  Photorhabdus luminescens: The Angel's Glow
For many, the idea of a bacterial infection in an open wound sounds like the worst possible scenario. And often it is, but there are cases where the right bacterium at the right time can actually save your life. Because as the bugs slug it out for access to the injured area, the ensuing microbial warfare can reap rewards for the wounded in the form of enhanced healing and fewer infections with mainstream pathogens.

Wound infections are common because they offer the perfect place for many bacterial species to thrive: they are warm, moist, harder for the immune system to access and, inevitably, the breakdown of damaged tissue yields a steady supply of growth-fuelling raw materials that microbes can make use of.

The problem of wound infection is exemplified nowhere better than on the battlefield where, throughout history, soil- and shrapnel-contaminated injuries have rendered soldiers much more likely to die from an infection than a bullet.

Of course, not all victims of such wound infections suffered a death sentence. There were survivors. But in the First World War, those that did survive frequently had a feature in common: wounds that glowed in the dark. Not only that, but their fluorescing tissues appeared to heal more cleanly and more quickly than the unilluminated wounds of their counterparts. And because it offered better survival prospects to the victims, this mysterious phenomenon became known as the "Angelís Glow".

Today, it is thought that the effect is most likely to have been caused by a naturally-luminescent bacterium called Photorhabdus luminescens. This soil-dwelling microbe produces a number of deadly products that can kill off competing potential pathogens, but is itself harmless to humans. Naturally, the afflicted soldiers had no idea that the glow was caused by a beneficial bacterial infection and instead interpreted it as the gift of survival from God, handed to them by by angels, hence the name.

But in more recent times, further research into this organism, which is the only non-marine bacterium discovered that is capable of luminescence, has since shed some light on the cause of the glow. It's all part of a symbiotic relationship between the bacterium and its insect-eating host.

This is because Photorhabdus lives in the guts of nematode worms, which survive by hunting down insect larvae that live in the soil and on the stems and leaves of plant.

When they snare a victim, the nematodes burrow into the blood vessels of the larva before regurgitating their Photorhabdus passengers, which promptly dispense a cocktail of chemicals that quickly kill the insect.

But apart from inbuilt insecticides, amongst the substances produced by Photorhabdus are also antibacterial agents that suppress the growth of other microbial species within the insect carcass, leaving Photorhabdus and its host nematodes to feed, grow and multiply unchallenged.

But as the food runs low, the bacteria re-colonise the guts of the nematodes in preparation for the next insect larva that is hunted down. And here's the clever part - the glow imparted to a parasitised insect is thought to lure in other insect prey.

Interestingly, this same relationship between nematode worms and Photorhabdus luminescens can even be used as an alternative to chemical insecticides in some plant species. The bacteria and worms can be cultured using dog food, then harvested and sprayed onto valuable plant species to protect them from insect infestation. This means the bacteria are not only good at protecting humans from potentially lethal infections, but they may also have a role in protecting the food we eat as well...
Our company specializes in professional mobile development phoenix in america
Bigfoot: The Nitrogen Problem
A Traveller's Guide to Bed Bugs
A spider web's strength lies in more than its silk
Thai police bust Bangkok rare wildlife 'butchers'
Castaway lizards provide insight into elusive evolutionary process
Bouquet bargains trade off for life
18 endangered dolphins spotted off Borneo: WWF
Tiny primate 'talks' in ultrasound
Steroids control gas exchange in plants
Fossil cricket reveals Jurassic love song
Rhino dies after anti-poaching treatment in S.Africa
Lions adapt to winter at Canada safari park
Invasive alien predator causes rapid declines of European ladybirds
Not the black sheep of domestic animals
Coaxing a Shy Microbe to Stand Out in a Crowd
How the zebra got its stripes
Fruit flies drawn to the sweet smell of youth
FLORA AND FAUNA Genetic Rosetta Stone unveiled in Nature
Ultraviolet protection molecule in plants yields its secrets
Indian village relocated to protect tigers
Explosive evolution need not follow mass extinctions
Plants use circadian rhythms to prepare for battle with insects
Armenia culls wolves after cold snap attacks
The Developing Genome?
Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison
Chromosome analyses of prickly pear cacti reveal southern glacial refugia
Poachers slaughter hundreds of elephants in Cameroon
'Founder effect' observed for first time
Menu
A Blue Future For Global Warming
Hitchhikers guide to Science
The Art of The Barbecue
Lost your bottle?
A Crossword a Day keeps the Doctor at Bay
Bio-plastics: Turning Wheat And Potatoes into Plastics
Why Don't Woodpeckers Get Brain Damage?
Protein Origami: Pop-up Books & Nature's Polymers
The Science of Parasites
Synthetic Biology: Making Life from Scratch
Flies are creatures of habit
What is Love?
How do plants develop?
What IQ Tests Can't Tell You
What is the Weirdest Experiment Ever?
Humble Honey Bee Helping National Security
Southern Right Whales
The Ocean's Cleaners
Barnacles "mussel" in
Food Date Coding Decoded
Photorhabdus luminescens: The Angel's Glow
Evolution Through the Looking Glass
I'm a Civet: Get me out of here!
No Smoke Detectors in the Sea