In the rainforests of the state of São Paulo, Brazil, researchers have discovered a new insect, a fungal fly from the Caroplatide family, whose larvae emit a special blue light. It is the first bioluminescent species to emit blue light in the deineotrophic region (all other bioluminescent species found in these regions emit light of other colors, such as red, yellow or green).
A new study published in scientific reports describes Neoceroplatus betaryiensis, whose larvae immediately attracted the attention of researchers precisely for the radiation of small blue lights. A new species was found in the Betters Nature Reserve, in the rainforest area around Iporanga, Sao Paulo. As Cassius Stevani, a professor at the University of São Paulo and one of the authors of the study, explains, adults of this species do not emit light: only larvae are bioluminescent.
The larvae themselves usually live in the trunks of trees, to some extent dark, and emit light from three points in the body, two close to the eyes and one close to the tail. Some larvae have been taken to a laboratory where researchers have analyzed them, finding that at birth they have inserted larvae into a parasitic family of Ichneumonidae – a family of insect spray larvae that lay eggs in other organisms, such as caterpillars, grasshoppers or bees to parasitize them.
As for Neoceroplatus betaryiensis, light is also produced by luciferins, certain compounds that are found in many other bioluminescent organisms. Among other things, the same researchers have found that luciferin and luciferase produced by N. betaryiensis are less common and easier to obtain than other species. For this reason, researchers intend to work with these compounds to clone their structures.
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