Jing-Ke Weng and collaborators from 14 other institutions ranging from MIT to Japan have just shared a major discovery about the evolutionary origins of the special bioluminescence of fireflies.
By sequencing the genomes of two American and Japanese firefly species that diverged approximately 100 million years ago, along with a more evolutionarily distant bioluminescent Caribbean click beetle, the team discovered that Luciferase appears to have arisen independently in fireflies and click beetles.
The results were originally shared with backers as a preprint on bioRxiv
, but just yesterday a new article was published open-access in the journal eLife
. In addition, they've also made available the genomes of the fireflies and beetles that led them to this discovery, thanks in part to $10,000 in funding from 90 experiment backers!