Navorsing uit die natuur – No 22: Vlikkerende Seeslak / Clusterwink Snail

Vlikkerende seeslak_CLUSTERWINK SNAIL

Seeslak Cluster wink snail

Seeslak

Baie seediere is bioluminiserend—dit wil sê, hulle kan lig voortbring. Die flikkerende seeslak, Hinea brasiliana, gebruik hierdie vermoë op ’n unieke manier. Wanneer hy deur ’n krap bedreig word, kruip hy terug in sy skulp en “flikker” hy. Die geflikker skrik die krap af. Maar hoe skyn die lig deur die seeslak se skulp?

Die skulp van die flikkerende seeslak keer nie dat lig deurskyn nie, dit versprei dit eerder. Dimitri Deheyn en Nerida Wilson, wetenskaplikes by die Scripps-instituut vir Oseanografie in San Diego, Kalifornië, VSA, het gevind dat die lig wat deur die seeslak voortgebring word, eweredig regdeur die hele skulp versprei word en dat die skulp die lig tien keer doeltreffender versprei as ’n kommersiële verspreier van dieselfde dikte (0,5 millimeter). Boonop is die skulp se vermoë om hierdie lig na sy omgewing te laat deurskyn, agt keer doeltreffender as dié van mensgemaakte verspreiers. Verbasend genoeg, hierdie uitsonderlike vermoë om lig te versprei of te laat deurskyn, word nie gevind in die skulpe van naverwante seeslakke wat nie bioluminiserend is nie. Dit is geensins toevallig dat hierdie lig die kleur is wat die verste in seewater trek nie.

Dr. Deheyn sê dat meer kennis oor die flikkerende seeslak “belangrik kan wees in die vervaardiging van materiaal wat lig doeltreffender kan versprei”. Die veld van biofotonika, wat lig vir mediese ontleding en behandeling gebruik, sal ook by hierdie navorsing baat vind. En in hierdie era van LED’s (ligemissiediodes) sal verspreiers wat die lig van klein ligbronne doeltreffender kan versterk, ongetwyfeld tot energiebesparing bydra.


CLUSTERWINK SNAIL

Many sea creatures are bioluminescent—that is, able to produce light. The clusterwink snail uses this ability in a unique way. When threatened by a predator crab, the clusterwink retreats into its shell and “flashes,” producing flickers of light that scare off the crab. But how does light shine through the snail’s shell?

Far from being a barrier, the shell of the clusterwink snail diffuses light. Dimitri Deheyn and Nerida Wilson, scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, U.S.A., found that the light produced by the snail is uniformly spread throughout the entire shell, and the shell diffuses the light ten times more efficiently than a commercial diffuser of the same thickness (.02 inch; 0.5 mm). At the same time, the shell’s ability to transmit this light to its surroundings is eight times more efficient than man-made diffusers. Surprisingly, this extraordinary capability to diffuse or transmit light is not found in the shells of closely related nonbioluminescent marine snails. Not coincidentally, this light happens to be the color that travels the farthest in seawater.

Dr. Deheyn says that learning about the clusterwink snail “could be important for building materials with better optical performance.” The field of biophotonics, which uses light for medical analysis and treatment, also stands to benefit from such research. And in this era of light-emitting diodes, diffusers capable of more efficiently amplifying small light sources will doubtless contribute to energy savings.

(Die reeks is saamgestel deur Kleingert Horn, ZS6HRN)

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