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Arthropod bioluminescence: biological diversity in Brazilian biomes, biochemical origin, structural/functional evolution of luciferases, molecular differentiation of lanterns, biotechnological, environmental and educational applications

Grant number: 10/05426-8
Support type:Research Projects - Thematic Grants
Duration: May 01, 2017 - April 30, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Biophysics
Principal Investigator:Vadim Viviani
Grantee:Vadim Viviani
Home Institution: Centro de Ciências e Tecnologias para a Sustentabilidade (CCTS). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). Sorocaba , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers: Carl Johnson ; Fábio Camargo Abdalla ; Jörg Kobarg ; Mário Tyago Murakami ; Simone Policena Rosa ; Yoshihiro Ohmiya
Associated grant(s):17/22262-8 - Multiusuary equipment conceeded by process: 2010/05426-8-bioimaging CCD system, AP.EMU
Associated scholarship(s):18/07925-3 - Transcriptional comparison of the integument of bioluminescent and non-bioluminescent coleopteran larvae during ecdysis; isolation, expression and characterization of coumarate-ligases and laccases; and relation between pigmentation and bioluminescence, BP.PD
18/26151-9 - Engineering Amydetes vivianii luciferase for use as bioanalytical reagent and as metal biosensor, BP.IC
18/17855-2 - Cloning, expression and characterization of Phengodidae luciferases and proteins of bioluminescent system: structural, functional and evolutive aspects, BP.DD
+ associated scholarships 18/19430-9 - Heterologous expression of luciferases in yeasts: potential applications in cell biosensors and bioluminescent immunoassays, BP.PD
18/03883-4 - Implementation, maintenance and disclosure of luminescence museum, BP.TT
17/26149-1 - Comparison the photogenic and non-photogenic tissues of bioluminescent keroplatid: morphological and biochemical aspects, BP.IC
18/02538-1 - Resolution of the three-dimensional structures of beetle luciferases and related enzymes by X-ray crystallography: relationship between structure, bioluminescence spectra and oxygenase activity, BP.PD - associated scholarships


Bioluminescence, the emission of cold light by living organisms, has been the subject of many multidisciplinary studies involving physics, chemistry and biology, resulting in important scientific discoveries and biotechnological applications in the last century. It can be considered as one of the signatures of life, and for this reason has been used as an excellent bioindicator at the molecular, cellular, organismic and biospheric levels. In the terrestrial environment it occurs among bacteria, fungi, annelids, mollusks, and especially among the arthropods. Among the insects, the bioluminescent beetles system is well known, whereas the bioluminescent Diptera systems remain largely unknown. Brazil hosts the greatest biodiversity of bioluminescent organisms in the world, including beetles, fungi and marine species. However, with the exception of surveys and studies of bioluminescent beetles Atlantic rain forest, and more recently of fungi, little is known about the bioluminescent biodiversity of the Cerrado biome and Amazon forest which are severely threatened by agricultural progress. In the last decade the cDNAs encoding various luciferases from Brazilian beetles with different properties of bioluminescence (colors, kinetic, pH-sensitivity, thermal stability) were cloned, expressed, purified and investigated under the structural/functional and evolutionary aspects by our research group, revealing important determinants of bioluminescence spectra, pH-sensitivity and oxigenase activity. The resultant knowledge is already allowing to engineer these proteins to improve their biotechnological applicability, and some of these luciferases have already acquired effective commercial application. However, several questions remain open regarding bioluminescent systems of insects, including: (1) the origin and structural/functional evolution of luciferases of Beetles and Diptera; (2) the identity of the luciferases, luciferins and accessory proteins in bioluminescent Diptera; (3) the biochemical and anatomical origins of the bioluminescent apparatus in diptera and Beetles, and their possible evolutionary relationships. In addition, despite the undoubted utility of beetles luciferases and other organisms for bioanalytical purposes, in Brazil we still do not use the unique broad repertoire of recombinant luciferases derived from our fauna for bioanalytical purposes, using imported reagents. Thus, this thematic proposal seeks to achieve broad multidisciplinary study of the terrestrial bioluminescence (especially of insects in Brazil), involving: (i) survey of the biodiversity of bioluminescent arthropods in Cerrado biomes, Amazon Forest, with the investigation of their bioluminescence properties, molecular evolution and phylogeny, and application as environmental bio-indicator; (II) to investigate the bioluminescent system of Diptera, especially the molecular identity of luciferases, luciferins and accessory protein Orfelia fultonii of the Palearctic region; (III) clone and investigate the structure, function and molecular evolution of luciferases and accessory proteins of bioluminescent beetles coming from our fauna and Diptera; (IV) to investigate the anatomical and metabolic origin of bioluminescence in the three families of bioluminescent beetles and Diptera through an approach involving cell biology and functional genomics, and (V) to investigate the applicability of the investigated and optimized luciferases by our research group in the development of biotech, environmental and educational applications (enzyme and cell luminescent biosensors, luminescent bioassays and bio-imaging, educational kits). (AU)

Articles published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the research grant
Researchers show how railroad worms produce red light 
Bioluminescent substance discovered in Brazilian cave worm larva 
Descoberta substância bioluminescente em larva de mosquito brasileiro  
Articles published in other midia outlets (10 total):
More itemsLess items
Pesquisa revela como a larva-trenzinho produz luz vermelha 
Pesquisa revela como larva-trenzinho consegue produzir um “farol” vermelho 
Pesquisa revela como a larva 
Pesquisa revela como a larva-trenzinho produz luz vermelha 
Pesquisa revela como a larva-trenzinho produz luz vermelha 
Pesquisa revela como a larva-trenzinho produz luz vermelha 
Pesquisa revela como larva de besouro consegue produzir luz vermelha 
Ciencia: Una investigación revela de qué manera produce luz roja el gusano ferrocarril 
Una investigación revela de qué manera produce luz roja el gusano ferrocarril 
Researchers show how railroad worms produce red light 

Scientific publications (9)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
FALASCHI, RAFAELA L.; AMARAL, DANILO T.; SANTOS, ISAIAS; DOMINGOS, ADAO H. R.; JOHNSON, GRANT A.; MARTINS, ANA G. S.; VIROOMAL, IMRAN B.; POMPEIA, SERGIO L.; MIRZA, JEREMY D.; OLIVEIRA, ANDERSON G.; BECHARA, ETELVINO J. H.; VIVIANI, VADIM R.; STEVANI, V, CASSIUS. Neoceroplatus betaryiensis nov. sp. (Diptera: Keroplatidae) is the first record of a bioluminescent fungus-gnat in South America. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, v. 9, AUG 5 2019. Web of Science Citations: 0.
PELENTIR, G. F.; BEVILAQUA, V. R.; VIVIANI, V. R. A highly efficient, thermostable and cadmium selective firefly luciferase suitable for ratiometric metal and pH biosensing and for sensitive ATP assays. PHOTOCHEMICAL & PHOTOBIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, v. 18, n. 8, p. 2061-2070, AUG 1 2019. Web of Science Citations: 0.
BEVILAQUA, V. R.; MATSUHASHI, T.; OLIVEIRA, G.; OLIVEIRA, P. S. L.; HIRANO, T.; VIVIANI, V. R. Phrixotrix luciferase and 6 `-aminoluciferins reveal a larger luciferin phenolate binding site and provide novel far-red combinations for bioimaging purposes. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, v. 9, JUN 21 2019. Web of Science Citations: 0.
DE MELLO GABRIEL, GABRIELE VERONICA; YASUNO, RIE; MITANI, YASUO; OHMIYA, YOSHIHIRO; VIVIANI, VADIM RAVARA. Novel application of Macrolampis sp2 firefly luciferase for intracellular pH-biosensing in mammalian cells. PHOTOCHEMICAL & PHOTOBIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, v. 18, n. 5, p. 1212-1217, MAY 1 2019. Web of Science Citations: 1.
AMARAL, DANILO T.; SILVA, JAQUELINE R.; VIVIANI, VADIM R. RNA-Seq analysis of the bioluminescent and non-bioluminescent species of Elateridae (Coleoptera): Comparison to others photogenic and non-photogenic tissues of Elateroidea species. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology D-Genomics & Proteomics, v. 29, p. 154-165, MAR 2019. Web of Science Citations: 1.
SILVA, JAQUELINE R.; AMARAL, DANILO T.; VIVIANI, VADIM R. Comparison of the Malpighian tubules and fat body transcriptional profiles of Zophobas morio larvae (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology D-Genomics & Proteomics, v. 29, p. 95-105, MAR 2019. Web of Science Citations: 1.
VIVIANI, VADIM R.; GABRIEL, GABRIELE V. M.; BEVILAQUA, VANESSA R.; SIMOES, A. F.; HIRANO, T.; LOPES-DE-OLIVEIRA, P. S. The proton and metal binding sites responsible for the pH-dependent green-red bioluminescence color tuning in firefly luciferases. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, v. 8, DEC 4 2018. Web of Science Citations: 2.
VIVIANI, VADIM R.; AMARAL, DANILO T.; BEVILAQUA, VANESSA R.; FALASCHI, RAFAELA L. Orfelia-type luciferin and its associated storage protein in the non-luminescent cave worm Neoditomyia sp (Diptera: Keroplatidae) from the Atlantic rainforest: biological and evolutionary implications. PHOTOCHEMICAL & PHOTOBIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, v. 17, n. 10, p. 1282-1288, OCT 1 2018. Web of Science Citations: 1.
OLIVEIRA, GABRIELA; VIVIANI, VADIM R. Comparison of the thermostability of recombinant luciferases from Brazilian bioluminescent beetles: Relationship with kinetics and bioluminescence colours. LUMINESCENCE, v. 33, n. 2, p. 282-288, MAR 2018. Web of Science Citations: 4.

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