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Bioluminescence in dinoflagellates

Mickaƫl Delcey, Nina Fischer, Roland Lindh, David van der Spoel, Michael Stenrup

Dinoflagellates comprise a large group of unicellular organisms found in aquatic environments. Several members of the group are bioluminescent; that is, they have the ability to produce light by chemical means. It is this ability that is responsible for most of the so-called phosphorescence of the sea - a bluish-green light-phenomenon familiar to many sailors and coastal-town flaneurs. In the present project, we aim to model the bioluminescence in dinoflagellates using a combination of different computational chemistry methods. Our ultimate goal is to establish how this process works at the atomic level, paying particular attention to the interaction of the light-producing molecule (the luciferin) and the surrounding enzyme (the luciferase).