Skip to main content
×
Home

Bioluminescence in the benthopelagic holothurian Enypniastes eximia

  • Bruce H. Robison (a1)
Abstract

Enypniastes eximia (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) is a prominent member of the benthic boundary layer community in deep Caribbean waters. Like most holothurians it feeds on benthic sediments. Feeding is episodic and after collecting food on the bottom it returns to the water column at altitudes within about 50 m of the sea floor. Direct observations from submersibles and laboratory studies of living specimens have shown how bioluminescence is produced. Light production in E. eximia is triggered mechanically, and is produced by hundreds of granular bodies within the gelatinous integument of the animal. Local stimulation yields a localized response which gradually spreads to the entire surface of the animal. Broad impact yields a whole-body luminescent response. The integument of E. eximia is quite fragile, and strong physical contact readily causes the skin to be sloughed off in a glowing cloud. The degree of luminous response is a function of the severity of contact. In the laboratory the skin of E. eximia, along with its luminescent capability, regenerated rapidly. The anti-predatory role of bioluminescence in this species is apparently a ‘burglar alarm’ strategy. In the dark, near-bottom habitat, physical contact by a predator elicits light production which reveals the presence of the attacker to its own visually-cued predators.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Billett D.S.M., Hansen B. & Huggett Q.J., 1985. Pelagic Holothuroidea (Echinodermata) of the northeast Atlantic. In Echinodermata (ed. B.F. Keegan and B.D.S. O'connor), pp. 399411. Rotterdam: Balkema.
Buck J.B., 1978. Functions and evolutions of bioluminescence. In Bioluminescence in action (ed. P.J. Herring), pp. 419460. New York: Academic Press.
Burkenroad M.D., 1943. A possible function of bioluminescence. Journal of Marine Research, 5, 161164.
Hansen B. & Madsen F.J., 1956. On two bathypelagic holothurians from the South China Sea. Galatheathuria n.g. aspera (Theel) and Enypniastes globosa n. sp. Galathea Report, 2, 5559.
Harvey E.N., 1952. Bioluminescence. New York: Academic Press.
Herring P.J., 1974. New observations of the bioluminescence of echinoderms. Journal of Zoology, 172, 401418.
Herring P.J., 1976. Bioluminescence in deep sea echinoderms. Contributions in biological oceanography. Edinburgh: Joint Oceanographic Assembly.
Herring P.J., 1978. Bioluminescence on invertebrates other than insects. In Bioluminescence in action (ed. P.J. Herring), pp. 199240. New York: Academic Press.
McAllister D.E., 1961. A collection of oceanic fishes from off British Columbia with a discussion of the evolution of black peritoneum. Bulletin. National Museum of Canada, 172, 3943.
Mensinger A.F. & Case J.F., 1990. Secondary luminescence increases susceptibility of zooplankton to teleost predation. Eos, 71, 1404.
Miller J.E. & Pawson D.L., 1990. Swimming sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea): a survey, with analysis of swimming behavior in four bathyal species. Smithsonian Contributions to the Marine Sciences, 35, 118.
Morin J.G., 1983. Coastal bioluminescence: patterns and functions. Bulletin of Marine Science, 33, 787817.
Murray J. & Hjort J., 1912. The depths of the ocean. London: Macmillan.
Ohta S., 1985. Photographic observations of the swimming behavior of the deep-sea pelagothuriid holothurian Enypniastes (Elasipoda, Holothuroidea). Journal of the Oceanographical Society of Japan, 41, 121133.
Pawson D.L., 1982. Deep-sea echinoderms in the Tongue of the Ocean, Bahama Islands: a survey using the research submersible ‘Alvin’. Memoirs of the Australian Museum, 16, 129145.
Porter K.G. & Porter J.W., 1979. Bioluminescence in marine plankton: a coevolved antipredation system. American Naturalist, 114, 458461.
Tett P.B. & Kelly M.G., 1973. Marine bioluminescence. Oceanography and Marine Biology. Annual Review. London, 11, 89173.
Widder E.A., Bernstein S.A., Bracher D.F., Case J.F., Reisenbichler K.R., Torres J.J. & Robison B.H., 1989. Bioluminescence in the Monterey Submarine Canyon: image analysis of video recordings from a mid water submersible. Marine Biology, 100, 541551.
Young R.E., 1983. Oceanic bioluminescence: an overview of general functions. Bulletin of Marine Science, 33, 829845.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
  • ISSN: 0025-3154
  • EISSN: 1469-7769
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-marine-biological-association-of-the-united-kingdom
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 13 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 673 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.