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'Krasnoyarsk… is the best and most beautiful of all Siberian cities, with its smoked-coloured and dreamy mountains'
A.P. Chekhov, 1890

The worm has turned...luminous blue

By The Siberian Times reporter
06 June 2014

New scientific discovery of a 'novel type of luciferin' making the Siberian Luminous Earthworm glow in the dark.

Don't I look glowing? Meet Siberian luminous earthworm Fridericia heliota. Picture:  Alexander Semenov

Scientists in Siberia have decrypted the structure of an earlier unknown luminous protein, it has been announced.

'This protein is 'responsible' for luminescent ability of tiny - 15 mm long - earthworms living in the soil of Siberian taiga,' said the media centre of the 

Siberian branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, explaining the breakthrough in Krasnoyarsk.

'One earthworm weighs some 2 milligrams, and each gram of its weight has only 0.1 micrograms of luminous protein. During several years of work, scientists managed to gather several dozens of thousands of earthworms which helped them to gather five micrograms of protein.

'That quantity was enough for scientists to figure out the structure of the substance'.

Intriguingly, the luminous system of Siberian taiga earthworms is different from that of similar types of species, which means that not only have scientists found one more luminous protein, but they have made a step towards decrypting the whole new luminous system. 

Crucailly it is revealed that 'the protein is simple in chemical synthesis, exceptionally stable and not toxic, which means it can be widely used in applied bioluminescence'.

The results of the studies were published by Angewandte Chemie scientific magazine on 15 April 2014.

The remarkable image was taken by photographer Alexander Semenov.

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