Bioluminescence in sharks


Researchers: Laurent Duchatelet (principal investigator);
                        Jérôme Mallefet (principal investigator);
                        Julien Claes (UCLouvain Scientific collaborator)
External collaborators:
- Dr. Patrick Flammang & Dr. Jérôme Delroisse (UMons, Belgium)
- Dr. Keiichi Sato (Okinawa Churashima Research Center, Japan)
- Prof. Hsuan-Ching Ho (National Dong Hwa Univ., Taiwan)
- Prof. Henrik Glenner & Dr. Nicolas Straube (Bergen Univ., Norway)
- Dr. Hélène Magalon (La Reunion Univ., France)


Although bioluminescence has been studied extensively in bone fish, it is also present in cartilaginous fish where there are currently more than 50 species of luminous sharks, belonging to the families of Dalatiidae  and Etmopteridae. Until recently, the majority of studies were based on simple observations, sometimes unique, light organs (photophores) or in vivo light production, this being mainly due to the difficulty of  obtaining specimens. Recently, the marine biology laboratory initiated the study of bioluminescence in various shark species. A multidisciplinary study was conducted in a species of lanternshark, Etmopterus spinax (L., 1758). Thus, the luminous pattern, the morphology of the photophores, the control of light emission or the role of this adaptation have been investigated in this species. Since 2015, a doctorate is underway, aiming to decipher the link between extraocular photoreception (through an extraocular opsin) and light emission. How this species manages to perceive its own light to finely regulate bioluminescence in a  counterillumination purpose (camouflage)? This work is extended to other shark species belonging to both luminous shark families