Hopkins Marine Station Student Paper

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Title: Bioluminescence in the benthic holothurian Pannychia moseleyi
Student Author(s): Andrews, Brian
Faculty Advisor(s): Baxter, Charles
Pages: 23
Location: Final Papers Biology 175H
Date: June 1992
Abstract: Pannychia moseleyi is a commonly found benthic organism living at depths greater than 400 m in the Monterey Bay canyon. Observations in the laboratory have shown that, upon tactile stimulation, Pannychia produces blue-green spiral and quasi-circular waves of bioluminescence over the entire body surface except the podia, papillae, and tentacles. Video analysis showed dispersion in traveling waves, i.e. the wave velocity at a point depends on the time elapsed since the previous wave passed that point. Annihilation was observed to occur when waves collided. This leads to the conclusion that the mechanism of bioluminescence behaves as an excitable medium with a refractory period of <= 0.5 seconds. There appear to exist regions on the body surface which are incapable of bioluminescing. These banded unexcitable zones are arranged diagonally with respect to the horizontally oriented animal.