from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A chemical substance present in the cells of bioluminescent organisms, such as fireflies, that produces an almost heatless, bluish-green light when oxidized under the catalytic effects of luciferase and ATP.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of a class of polycyclic heterocycles that are responsible for the bioluminescence of fireflies, being converted to oxyluciferin by luciferase in the process.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. any of several substances found in luminescent organisms (such as the firefly, Photinus pyralis) which, when oxidized, produces an almost heatless light. It was first isolated from fireflies, and is the source of the firefly luminescence. See also firefly luciferin

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. pigment occurring in luminescent organisms (as fireflies); emits heatless light when undergoing oxidation


Latin lūcifer, light-bringing; see Lucifer + -in.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • He told me that luciferin is extremely unstable and rapidly decomposes in the presence of oxygen, and also that Professor Newton Harvey of Princeton University had been trying to purify luciferin for the past 20 years but had been unsuccessful.

    Osamu Shimomura - Autobiography

  • It is produced when oxygen, breathed in through the abdominal trachea, combines with a substance called luciferin in the presence of the enzyme luciferase, in special cells called photocytes.

    The light that draws the flower

  • This enzyme uses ATP to power a chemical reaction in which a chemical (called luciferin) is oxidized, emitting a photon in the process.

    Ars Technica

  • The light is created when oxygen combines with a substance called luciferin in the presence of the enzyme luciferase, in special cells called photocytes.

    A Passion for Nature

  • I also studied the properties of GFP and resolved a controversy regarding the role of a dioxetane intermediate in the luminescence reaction of firefly luciferin.

    Osamu Shimomura - Autobiography

  • I also performed research on dinoflagellate luciferin and luminous scale worms.

    Osamu Shimomura - Autobiography

  • Our first paper on Cypridina luciferin was published in 1957, although the chromophore structure of luciferin remained to be elucidated.

    Osamu Shimomura - Autobiography

  • With that material, Kishi successfully determined the structure of the luciferin the next year.

    Osamu Shimomura - Autobiography

  • He explained to me that Cypridina, a small crustacean common in shallow coastal waters of Japan, emits light with an organic compound called luciferin and an enzyme, luciferase.

    Osamu Shimomura - Autobiography

  • From frozen Cypridina, we extracted luciferin and then purified and crystallized the luciferin.

    Osamu Shimomura - Autobiography


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