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Photochem Photobiol. 2013 Nov-Dec;89(6):1318-26. doi: 10.1111/php.12135. Epub 2013 Aug 20.

Current status of research on fungal bioluminescence: biochemistry and prospects for ecotoxicological application.

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Departamento de Química Fundamental, Instituto de Química, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.


Over the last half decade the study of fungal bioluminescence has regained momentum since the involvement of enzymes has been confirmed after over 40 years of controversy. Since then our laboratory has worked mainly on further characterizing the substances involved in fungal bioluminescence and its mechanism, as well as the development of an ecotoxicological bioluminescent assay with fungi. Previously, we proved the involvement of a NAD(P)H-dependent reductase and a membrane-bound luciferase in a two-step reaction triggered by addition of NAD(P)H and molecular oxygen to generate green light. The fungal luminescent system is also likely shared across all lineages of bioluminescent fungi based on cross-reaction studies. Moreover, fungal bioluminescence is inhibited by the mycelium exposure to toxicants. The change in light emission under optimal and controlled conditions has been used as endpoint in the development of toxicological bioassays. These bioassays are useful to better understand the interactions and effects of hazardous compounds to terrestrial species and to assist the assessment of soil contaminations by biotic or abiotic sources. In this work, we present an overview of the current state of the study of fungal luminescence and the application of bioluminescent fungi as versatile tool in ecotoxicology.

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