Some species of springtail (Collembola) are luminous, but it is not known whether light emitted by springtail is due to self-luminescence, feeding on luminous fungi, or accidental infection by luminous bacteria. To address this question, we characterized the luminescence of a luminous springtail, Lobella sp. (family Neanuridae) discovered in Tokyo, Japan. The emitted light was yellowish-green (540 nm) and was found to originate from tubercles on the thorax (segments II and III) and abdomen (segments I–VI) using a low-light imaging system. The luminescence persisted for several seconds but showed occasional oscillations in a laboratory environment. We also observed fat bodies containing eosin-positive granules under the integument of the tubercles in the tergum by hematoxylin and eosin (HE) staining that were not present in a nonluminous springtail (Vitronura sp.). The fat bodies in Lobella sp. are presumably photocytes analogous to the firefly lantern, and the eosin-positive granules are the likely source of bioluminescence, which implies that springtails are self-luminescent.
Part of the book: Bioluminescence