Jellyfish wins chemistry Nobel Prize


Aequorea victoria

From the BBC:

‘Glowing’ jellyfish grabs Nobel

A clever trick borrowed from jellyfish has earned two Americans and one Japanese scientist a share of the chemistry Nobel Prize.

Martin Chalfie, Roger Tsien and Osamu Shimomura made it possible to exploit the genetic mechanism responsible for luminosity in the marine creatures.

Today, countless scientists use this knowledge to tag biological systems.

Glowing markers will show, for example, how brain cells develop or how cancer cells spread through tissue.

But their uses really have become legion: they are now even incorporated into bacteria to act as environmental biosensors in the presence of toxic materials.

Colour palette

Jellyfish will glow under blue and ultraviolet light because of a protein in their tissues. Scientists refer to it as green fluorescent protein, or GFP.

Shimomura made the first critical step, isolating GFP from a jellyfish (Aequorea victoria) found off the west coast of North America in 1962. He made the connection also with ultraviolet light.

Today we consider chemistry to be a science, but its roots, back in Ancient Egypt, lie in art and the creation of synthetic pigments: here.

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