Fireflies inhale oxygen and exhale light with help from an enzyme.

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"In a firefly bioluminescence reaction, an enzyme known as a luciferase uses adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to activate a molecule called a luciferin. The product of this reaction combines with molecular oxygen to produce an excited-state oxyluciferin species. When oxyluciferin relaxes back to its ground state, energy is released in the form of light…Jellyfish-like animals called ctenophores—can do without [ATP to jump-start bioluminescence]. Instead, they use a luciferin of intrinsically higher energy and prepackage it with oxygen in an enzyme known as a photoprotein. Calcium activates the reaction by changing the shape of the photoprotein, which releases the invested energy in the form of light." (Pepling 2006:36)

Journal article
All That Glows: Bioluminescence provides practical applications while still remaining a mystery

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Fireflies inspire low-cost LED lighting

Journal article
Biologically inspired LED lens from cuticular nanostructures of firefly lanternProceedings of the National Academy of SciencesOctober 30, 2012
J.-J. Kim, Y. Lee, H. G. Kim, K.-J. Choi, H.-S. Kweon, S. Park, K.-H. Jeong

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Common Eastern FireflyPhotinus pyralisSpecies

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