First Advisor

Ghedotti, Michael


Regis College

Degree Name



Regis College Senior Honors Program

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access



Number of Pages

58 pages


Bioluminescence is the process by which living organisms emit light, and it has a large present in marine organisms. Specifically, marine fishes utilize bioluminescence (self-produced or achieved by creating a symbiosis with bioluminescent bacteria) for camouflage, communication, etc. The three central questions of my thesis are: What is the morphology of the lestidiid light organ (a group of luminescent deep sea fish demonstrating counterillumination), and how does this information inform the evolutionary phylogeny of this clade? Are quorum quenching genes present in Photobacterium leiognathi (luminescent bacterium symbionts of ponyfishes, glowbellies, etc.), and how does sequence information inform host specificity and the evolutionary phylogeny of P. leiognathi strains? Lastly, what is experiential learning, how does it tie into scientific research (how did research become such an important part of the university), and how does this style of learning apply to the two experiments I conducted? I conducted extensive background research on these three topics to inform my studies, then conducted the experiments using gross dissection and histology (lestidiid light organ research) as well as DNA extraction, amplification, and sequencing techniques (lestidiid and P. leiognathi research). Lestidiid light organs are shown to derive from hepatopancreatic tissue that was coopted to act as luminescent tissue. P. leiognathi lack the quorum quenching gene of interest, but the phylogeny I constructed with my data and published data adds credibility to the high degree of host specificity between bacterial strains and host fish species. Lastly, I discuss how the search for empirical knowledge propelled the development of scientific research in the university, for questions are an integral and everlasting part of the scientific process.

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Location (Creation)

Denver, Colorado

Rights Statement

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