'Chimpanzee fire' fungus filmed


As darkness falls on the forests of the Congo, the ground begins to glow.

Although reminiscent of a science fiction film, the scene is in fact a natural event and the glow is from a relatively simple organism: a fungus.

The natural phenomenon, known as bioluminescence, was captured by filmmakers for the landmark programme Africa, a BBC / Discovery coproduction.

Known locally as "chimpanzee fire", this fungus glows due to chemical reaction occurring inside it when an enzyme called luciferase, an oxidising agent, emits light as it reacts with luciferin.

In this clip, Sir David Attenborough explains the lifecycle of the luminous species.

Africa continues on BBC One at 21.00 GMT on Wednesday 16 January.

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