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Biosciences Research Seminar - Deciphering bioluminescent communication in marine annelids

Part of the Biosciences lunchtime research seminar series

Speaker: Dr Ragnhild Jacobsen, Marine Neuroscience Laboratory, Norway and Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, Norwegian university of science and technology (NTNU), Norway. Host: Dr Luis Bezares Calderon

Event details


Bioluminescence is immensely important to life on our planet. A large variety of species across multiple habitats can produce this heat-free form of light, but most reside in the ocean. Here, bioluminescence is the primary source of light at night and at depth, and is generated by more than 75% of pelagic organisms. As the ocean’s predominant communication signal, its assumed functions are diverse, ranging from predator defence to hunting and mating. Colour is thought to play a role in mediating these functions, as a variety of hues are represented. These colours are, however, unevenly distributed among species. This, in turn, has led to the hypothesis that the rare yellow and red wavelengths facilitate private, intraspecies communication while the much more common blue and green also contribute to interspecies communication. Whether or not this is the case remains unknown as we still know very little about what bioluminescent signals mean and even less about the significance of colour at both behavioural and neuronal levels. In this talk I will introduce a project that aims to 1) determine how bioluminescence and its colours mediate inter- and intraspecies communication in marine annelids at a behavioural level and 2) characterise the underlying neuroanatomy to begin unravelling the neuronal underpinnings of bioluminescent communication.