Bioluminescent Bacteria and Algae, the Future Lighting


The University of Sevilla has patented a method for culturing the bacteria Vibrio fischeri and the algae Pyrocystus fusiformis in order to configure bioluminescent devices that emit light without electricity consumption, with applications in environmental lighting and signaling.

Bioluminescence is a widespread phenomenon at all biological levels (bacteria, fungi, worms, insects, etc.). It consists of light emission that certain living organisms are able to generate, usually through photoluminescence or chemiluminescence. Using the bacteria Vibrio fischeri and bioluminescent micro-algae Pyrocystis fusiformis, it is possible to obtain ambient lighting devices, which emit light without power consumption and without damaging the environment.

The main novelty of this patent lays in the method of obtaining ambient lighting devices, taking advantage of the luminous features presented by the microorganisms of the project with the aim of producing natural light without consuming electricity and without emitting harmful waste to the environment. These two qualities are great advantages compared to traditional lighting systems. Furthermore, this invention presents geometric design built up with biodegradable and/or recycled materials, which support populations of bacteria Vibrio fischeri and unicellular algae Pyrocystis fusiformis, to construct the devices.

Eduardo Mayoral, principal investigator of the patent who trained in Columbia and at the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Sevilla, said: “This invention proposes a solution to these problems (power consumption and generation of waste) through the use of bioluminescent properties of these microorganisms, properly arranged in biodegradable lighting devices. These microorganisms do not have today the light output of a streetlight, but grown in a culture medium rich in nutrients and implemented in a suitable geometry, they work very well for signaling or lighting natural areas, also conveniently avoiding light pollution. These bioluminescent devices do not generate any type of waste and are 100% absorbable by the environment“.

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