Firefly Lab Report

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The effect of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) on bioluminescence in fireflies.


Adenosine triphosphate, also known as ATP, is the supply of energy found in every cell that we need in order to do essentially everything (Anonymous, 2008). It is an energy source for biochemical reactions such as muscle contraction, active transport, molecular synthesis, and in fireflies, also known as lightening bugs, bioluminescence (Biology Book).

Bioluminescence is the process in which living organisms convert chemical energy into light (Branchini, 2008). In the fireflies case the reaction involves the enzyme luciferase which lights up a lantern-like mechanism under the tip the wings and attached to the end of the body of the firefly. It is presumed that the firefly uses the lantern to attract a mate. The goal in this experiment was to test the effect of adenosine triphosphate in lighting the firefly’s lantern in temperature effects, pH effects, and salt effect.

Materials and Methods
Powdered firefly lanterns were obtained from Carolina Biological. The lights in the room were turned off. The dropper from the bottle of ATP powder was removed. A pipette was used to add 1 mL of buffer solution to the bottle ATP and the dropper was placed back onto the bottle. The bottle was rolled between the palms of a pair of hands to until the powder was dissolved. The powdered firefly lantern was poured into two Petri dishes in each of the four stations. One was used for the control and the other dish was used for the experiment. To each of the Petri dishes 1 mL of buffer solution was added.

At station 1 the control two drops of ATP were added to each Petri dish. The control Petri dish was left alone and a pipette was used to deliver several drops of acetic acid to the experimental dish. Several drops of sodium hydroxide were added to the experimental dish. Results were observed and recorded.

At station 2 the control Petri dish was left alone on the table...
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