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THE PHENOMENON OF THE MILKY SEA BASED ON THE BACTERIA-ALGAE IMMOBILIZATION HYPOTHESIS

SEA BASED ON THE BACTERIA-ALGAE IMMOBILIZATION HYPOTHESIS An enhanced photo of a gift-bearing Santa Claus illuminated

An enhanced photo of a gift-bearing Santa Claus illuminated by the glow of a small self-contained “Milky Sea”

May I please share with the community of scientists interested in the phenomenon of the “Milky Sea” my hypothesis as to its occurrence in nature. My work with Vibrio fischeri, a close relative of the marine luminous bacterium: Vibrio harveyi believed to be responsible for the Milky Sea showed that when cells of Vibrio fischeri are immobilized in small paper-discs, one paper-disc remain luminous in a test tube of 2.5% saline for about 2 days. If minimal nutrient and aeration are provided to the medium then the luminosity of the paper-disc can be extended for up to 4 days. But when the Vibrio fischeri cells are just suspended in the 2.5% saline as individual cells in test tubes they remain luminous for only about two hours. Immobilization of the Vibrio fischeri cells rendered them luminous far longer than if they were just suspended as single cells in saline. Immobilization in paper-discs is simply done by immersing a 6.0 mm diameter Whatman filter paper in a luminous suspension of Vibrio fischeri. The paper-disc absorbs the luminous suspension causing millions of cells of Vibrio fischeri to be trapped in its intertwining cellulosic fibrils rendering the entire paper- disc luminous as well. Once removed from the luminous suspension, the paper-disc acquires its own bright luminosity due to the millions of Vibrio fischeri cells are trapped together in the small volume of the paper-disc. The high density and close packing of the cells in the small volume of the paper- discs probably tricks them into thinking that they are still a part of a larger population thereby continuously promoting their “quorum sensing” based bioluminescence activity. Indeed, to circumvent the restrictions imposed by a having a very large density of 10 9 cells/mL of the luminous bacteria in seawater to keep them continuously luminous as proposed for Milk Sea, it is hypothesized that luminosity in seawater of a much lower number of luminous bacteria is still achievable if they can be packed close together in the pores, holes, crevices, edges and filaments of a much larger algal cell most likely that of the glass cell-walled Diatoms. A Diatom is most likely several thousand times bigger than Vibrio harveyi. A bloom of Diatoms must coincide with the

growth and subsequent attachment to their cell wall of an increasing number of Vibrio harveyi cells upon cell to cell contact in the sea. Attachment and immobilization of the Vibrio harveyi cells in the much larger algal cells is very much liked my luminous paper-disc’s immobilization of Vibrio fischeri retaining its luminosity for several days thus supporting the observation that the “Milky Sea” of 1995 lasted for about 3 days. The attachment of the luminous bacteria to algae should even produce brighter bioluminescence that should last for several days. The energetic blue light of bioluminescence should keep photosynthesis on-going in the algae, which in turn should produce foods like carbohydrates and oils and the essential gas: oxygen, which should even promote brighter bioluminescence of the attached bacteria. This brief moment of a seemingly mutually beneficial interaction between a luminous bacterium and an alga should explain the occurrence of a bright “Milky Sea” lasting for several days. Furthermore, a “Milky sea” appears white as recorded by sailors while bacterial bioluminescence is blue. In my years of working with plate cultures and suspensions of Vibrio fischeri in saline observing them in absolute darkness for several hours not once did I noticed that the light turned white as it always appeared bluish to me. It is explained that the whitish appearance of the Milky Sea is due to the eye’s scotopic vision taking effect. Since scotopic vision is colour blind then the blue colour of bioluminescence turns white. Perhaps the brightness of a plate cultures and suspensions in the dark still allow photopic vision to be turned on in our eyes permitting the discernment of the blue colour of bioluminescence. I believe that the switch from photopic to scotopic vision happens only in absolute darkness and when the source of light happens to be very dim. These two seemingly conflicting observations of the blue colour of bioluminescence and the white colour of the Milky Sea can be reconciled again by the bacteria-algae immobilization hypothesis. The blue light produced by the marine bacteria is transmitted through the glass cell wall and oil globules inside the algae producing a white light that we see as the Milky Sea. Perhaps again, it’s just like the whitish colloidal suspension of mayonnaise, which are oil globules dangling in the colourless medium of vinegar.

oil globules dangling in the colourless medium of vinegar. An environment-friendly cloth bag illuminated by

An environment-friendly cloth bag illuminated by bioluminescence from within represents my personal advocacy of using bioluminescence for a greener world

To promote my personal advocacy of using bacterial bioluminescence for a greener world, I will be willing to cooperate with research institutions or green organizations in the preparation of hundreds

of thousands of these luminous paper-discs, perhaps even one million, to be released in the sea in the middle of night to replicate a small “Milky Sea” that will lasts for several hours. These luminous paper-discs should remain afloat and move with the current as they light up a small part of the sea. They might even attract and be eaten by nearby fishes, which will surely bring these luminous microbes into the intestines and in that niche they could most likely function as probiotics for the well-being of the fishes. The marine luminous bacteria are inherently one of the major components of the saltwater fishes’ intestinal microflora.

BIOLUMIN: BLUE LIGHT GREEN WORLD