Bernd Schöllhorn – Laboratoire d’Electrochimie Moléculaire, Université Paris Cité
Up to date photoluminescence of terrestrial animals remains an under explored domain. In contrast to marine organisms not many terrestrial species have been reported yet to show strong fluorescence emission in the visible range. Hypotheses such as photo-protection, UV-light detection, prey and pollinator-attraction, intra-species signaling and species recognition have been suggested as biological functions.[i],[ii],[iii]
The main goal of our highly interdisciplinary project is to investigate fluorescence properties of arthropods. Among arthropods, insects constitute 55% of species biodiversity of all living organisms and the fact that they are often abundant and quite accessible in terms of collecting make insects a promising target group for obtaining potential hits regarding the search for novel fluorescent biomaterials and natural fluorophores. A recent article  describes the unprecedented discovery and characterization of the exceptionally bright fluorescence of tropical paper wasp nests of the genus Polistes. It represents the strongest green fluorescence of natural terrestrial biomatter (quantum yields of up to 35 %) reported up to date. Only the recent availability of portable LED UV flashlights made our discovery possible, via a systematic infield search. We are convinced that such an approach will boost in an unprecedented way the quest for novel photo luminescent biomaterials as well as the discovery of new classes of fluorescent compounds with potential applications in biological and biomedical domains. Such research will certainly have an important impact on the understanding of ecological and behavioral function of natural bio fluorescence and may be of high relevance to the bio-inspired development of new functional molecules and materials.
 Daney de Marcillac, W.; Nguyen, L.T.P.; Archeloff, C.; Berthier, S.; Schöllhorn, B.; J. R. Soc. Interface 2021, 18: 20210418. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2021.0418
 S. Berthier, B. Schöllhorn. La Recherche, 2022 Oct/Dec., N°571, 102-107.
[i] Lagorio, M. G. ; Cordon, G. B. ; Iriel, A. ; Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 14, 1538-1559 (2015).
[ii] Jeng, M.-L.; Bioluminescence – Analytical Applications and Basic Biology, Ed. H. Suzuki, IntechOpen 2019, pp 1-25.
[iii] Marshall, J.; Johnsen, S. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2016, 372:20160335.