Team Marine Biology (Jérôme Mallefet)


Bioluminescence is defined as the emission of visible light by living organisms. This light-related phenomenon is both rare in terms of the number of species but extremely widespread in terms of phyletic distribution in the marine world: there are luminous species in at least 13 invertebrate phyla, whereas the only naturally luminous vertebrates are fish. The diversity of expression of the phenomenon is enormous and our research initially focused on the luminescence of fish and echinoderms.

We address question on how, when, why produce light with specific emphasis on “model” species :
- Amphiura filiformis and other luminous brittle stars
- Etmopterus spinax and other luminous deep-sea sharks
- Tomopteris helgolandica and other luminous pelagic polychaetes
- Fish for different families such as dragonfish, midshipman fish, hatchetfish or myctophids

Comparative studies of bioluminescence are also carried out thanks to the extension of our research to luminous species of cnidarians, crustaceans, or polychaetes. This vast program of basic research is developed in collaboration with national and international leading expert laboratories. We aim at testing our hypotheses integrating various approaches and tools, from pharmacology and luminometry studies (analyze of light emission process and control), to behavior ecology (for which purpose bioluminescence is used), molecular analyses of light emission (pathways underlying light emission, luminous compound analyzes), comparative phylogenetics (phylogenetic relation between different luminous system), transcriptomics (identification of different compound involved in luminescence), etc.