Since ancient times, the inherent glow of organisms has garnered the interest of observers1. In Chinese texts, references made in passing to glowing organisms can be found, for example in The Odes of Pin from 1500 to 1000 BCE‡,1,2: “Our paddocks seem crowded with deer, / glowing intermittently are the fireflies. / Such thoughts while they filled us with fear, / we tried, but in vain, to keep out.”
Almost 3000 years would pass until researchers found the source of the sporadic glow. Raphael Dubois, a French pharmacologist, created heat-sensitive and heat-labile extracts from an elaterid beetle, or firefly, of the Pyrophorous genus in 1885. He named the extracts luciferin and luciferase, respectively. Read more . . .