Hastings Lab Home Page

Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Harvard University Biological Laboratories
16 Divinity Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138-2020 (USA)

Last updated September 2006

Luminous bacteria photographed by their own light -- individual colonies (left); strain Y-1 with
an accessory yellow fluorescent flavin antenna protein (right).

Pyrocystis lunula, day

Pyrocystis lunula, night

Lingulodinium polyedrum (Gonyaulax polyedra), night

Lingulodinium polyedrum (Gonyaulax polyedra), day

Bioluminescent dinoflagellates showing the fluorescence of scintillons, the organelles where light emission occurs, and the
difference between cells and organelles from day to night.  Red fluorescence from chlorophyll.

Research concerned with the biochemical mechanism of bioluminescence and the cellular and molecular
mechanism of the circadian clock.

A summary of our research

Scanning electron micrograph of Gonyaulax polyedra

Recent Publications

(click on publication number for abstract; links to most full-text articles will require a Harvard ID and pin number)

433. Nealson, K. H. and Hastings, J. W. (2006) Quorum sensing on a global scale: massive numbers of bioluminescent bacteria make milky seas. Appl. Env. Microbiol. 72:2295-2297

432. Liu, L. and Hastings, J. W. (2006) Novel and rapidly diverging intergenic sequences between tandem repeats of the luciferase genes in seven dinoflagellate species. J. Phycology 42:96-103

431. Hastings, J. W., Liu, L., and Schultz, W. (2005) Dinoflagellate Bioluminescence and its Circadian Regulation  In, Bioluminescence (John Lee, Editor),  The Digital Photobiology Compendium (Dennis P. Valenzeno, Editor) http://www.photobiology.info/instruct/index2.htm, click "Preview Modules" then "Bioluminescence: Ocean"

430. Nassoury, Nasha, Morse, David and Hastings, J. Woodland (2005) The mechanism of the Gonyaulax (Lingulodinium) circadian clock: input and output. In, The Circadian Clock in Eukaryotic Microbes ( F. Kippert, editor)  Landes Bioscience/Eurekah, Georgetown, TX <http://www.eurekah.com/abstract.php?chapid=2429&bookid=180&catid=85>

429. Nassoury, Nasha, Hastings, J. Woodland and Morse, David (2005) Biochemistry and circadian regulation of output from the Gonyaulax clock: Are there many clocks or simply many hands? In, The Circadian Clock in Eukaryotic Microbes ( F. Kippert, editor)  Landes Bioscience/Eurekah, Georgetown, TX <http://www.eurekah.com/abstract.php?chapid=2429&bookid=180&catid=85>

428. Liu, L., Schultz, W. and Hastings, J. W. (2005) pH regulation of luciferase activity in dinoflagellates involves a novel enzymatic mechanism. In Bioluminescence & Chemiluminescence:  (A. Tsuji,  M. Maeda, L.J. Kricka, and P. E. Stanley, Eds.), World Scientific Publ., London.

427. Schultz, W., Liu, L., Cegielski, M., and Hastings, J. W. (2005)  Crystal structure of a pH-regulated luciferase catalyzing the bioluminescent oxidation of open tetrapyrrole. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA  102:1378-1383

426. Hastings, J. W. (2004)  William David McElroy 1917-1999: a biographical memoir.  in Biographical Memoirs, vol. 85.  National Academies Press, Washington D.C.

425. Hastings, J. W. and Krause, K. (2004) Luciferases and light-emitting accessory proteins: structural biology. Nature Encyclopedia of Life Sciences on line. <www.els.net>

424. Loros, J., Hastings, J.Woodland & Schibler, Ueli (2004) Adapting to life on a rotating world at the gene expression level. pp.255-290 In, Chronobiology: Biological Timekeeping (J.C.Dunlap, Jennifer Loros and Patricia DeCoursey, Eds) Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, MA.

423. Liu, L., Wilson, T. and Hastings, J. W. (2004)  Molecular evolution of dinoflagellate luciferases, enzymes with three catalytic domains in a single polypeptide.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA  101:16555-16560

422. Hastings, J. W. (2004)  Bacterial quorum-sensing signals are inactivated by mammalian cells. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA  101: 3993-3994

421. Hastings, J. W. (2003)  Bioluminescence,  Microbial,  in Encyl. Microbiol. vol. 1: 178-186. Elsevier Ltd.

420. Bertomeu, Thierry, Hastings, J.W., and Morse, David (2003) Vectorial Labeling of Dinoflagellate Cell Surface Proteins. J. Phycology 39: 1254-1260

419. Okamoto, O. Keith and Hastings, J. Woodland  (2003) Genome-wide analysis of redox-regulated genes. Gene 321: 73-81

418. Rossini, Carlos, Taylor, W.R, Fagan, T.F. and Hastings, J.W. (2003)  Lifetimes of mRNAs for clock-regulated proteins in a dinoflagellate. Chronobiology Int.  20: 963-976

417. Liu, Liyun, Im, H., Cegielski, M., LeMagueres, P., Schultz,W., Krause, K., and Hastings, J.W. (2003) Characterization and Crystallization of Active Domains of a Novel Luciferase from a Marine Dinoflagellate. Acta Cryst. D59: 761-764

416.  Hastings, J.W. and Johnson, C. H.  (2003) Bioluminescence and Chemiluminescence, in  Biophotonics  Meth. Enz. 360: 75-104

415.  Okamoto, O. K.and Hastings, J. W. (2003)  Novel dinoflagellate clock-related genes identified through microarray analysis.J. Phycology 39: 519-526

414.  Comolli, J., Fagan, T. F. and Hastings, J. W.  (2003) A type-1 phosphoprotein phosphatase from a dinoflagellate as a possible component of the circadian mechanism. J. Biol. Rhythms 18: 367-376

413.  Chudnovsky, Y., Li, J., Rizzo, P., Hastings, J. W. and Fagan, T. F.  (2002) Cloning, Expression, and Characterization of a Histone-Like Protein from the Marine Dinoflagellate Lingulodinium polyedrum (Dinophyceae).  J. Phycology  38: 543-550

412.  Fagan, Thomas and Hastings, J. W  (2002)  Phylogenetic Analysis Indicates Multiple Origins of Chloroplast Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Genes in Dinoflagellates. Mol. Biol. Evol. 19: 1203-1207

411.  Viviani, V. R., Hastings, J. W. and Wilson, T. (2002) Two bioluminescent Diptera: the North American Orfelia fultoni and the Australian Arachnocampa flava.  Similar niche, different bioluminescence systems.  Photochem. Photobiol. 75: 22-27

410.  Okamoto, O. K., Liu, Liyun, Robertson, D. L. and Hastings, J. Woodland (2001) Members of a Dinoflagellate Luciferase Gene Family Differ in Synonymous Substitution Rates.  Biochemistry 40: 15862-15868

409.  Hastings, J. W. (2001) Bioluminescence. (N. Sperelakis, ed.),  In: Cell Physiology, 3rd Edition, Academic Press, NY., pp 1115-1131.

408. Hastings, J. Woodland and Wood, Keith V. (2001) Luciferases did not all evolve from precursors having similar enzymatic properties. pp.199-210, In, Photobiology 2000 (D. Valenzeno and T. Coohill, eds.) Valdenmar Publ. Co., Overland Park, KS

407. Hastings, J. Woodland (2001) Keeping in Tune with Time: Entrainment of Circadian Rhythms p. 449-473, In, Photomovement (M. Lebert and D.-P, Häder, editors) ESP Review Series, (D.-P, Häder and B. Jori, series editors) OEMF, Berlin.

406.  Hastings, J.W. (2001)  Cellular and molecular mechanisms of circadian regulation in the unicellular dinoflagellate Gonyaulax polyedra  In: Handbook of Behavioral Neurobiology,vol 12: Circadian Clocks. (J. Takahashi, F. Turek & R.Y. Moore, eds.), pp.321-334, Plenum Press, NY.

405.  Okamoto, O. K., Robertson, D. L., Fagan, T., Hastings, J. W. and Colepicolo, P. (2001) Different Regulatory Mechanisms Modulate the Expression of a Dinoflagellate Iron-Superoxide Dismutase.  J. Biol. Chem. 276: 19989-19993

404.  Hastings, J. Woodland (2001) pH 14 science: McElroy and the pursuit of fundamental research.pp. 5-10, In Bioluminescence & Chemiluminescence:  (J. Case, S. Haddock, L.J. Kricka, and P. E. Stanley, Eds.), 517 pp. World Scientific Publ., London.

403. Hastings, J. Woodland (2001)  Fifty years of fun. J. Biol. Rhythms 16: 5-18

402.  Li, Liming, Liu, Liyan, Hong, Robert, Robertson, Deborah and Hastings, J. W. (2001) N-terminal intramolecularly conserved histidines of three domains in Gonylaulax luciferase are responsible for loss of activity in the alkaline region.  Biochemistry 40: 1844-1849

398. Hastings, J. W. and Greenberg, E. P. (1999) Quorum Sensing: The explanation of a curious phenomenon reveals a common characteristic of bacteria. J. Bacteriol. 181: 2667-2668

395. Fagan, Thomas, Morse, David and Hastings, J. W. (1999) Circadian synthesis of a nuclear-encoded chloroplast glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase in the dinoflagellate Gonyaulax polyedra is translationally controlled. Biochemistry 38: 7689-7695

394. Comolli, James and Hastings J. W. (1999) Novel Effects on The Gonyaulax Circadian System Produced by the Protein Kinase Inhibitor Staurosporine. J. Biol. Rhythms 14: 10-18

393. Hastings, J.W. (1999) Cellular and molecular mechanisms of circadian regulation in Gonyaulax. In: Handbook of Behavioral Neurobiology and Circadian Clocks. ( J. Takahashi, F. Turek and R.Y. Moore, eds.), pp. 000-000 (Plenum Press).

392. Hastings, J. W. and Morin, J. G. (1998) Photons for reporting molecular events: Green fluorescent protein and four luciferase systems. pp. 17-41 in Green Fluorescent Protein: Properties, applications and protocols. (Martin Chalfie and Steven Kain, Eds.) Wiley-Liss, N.Y.

391. Wilson, T. and Hastings, J.W. (1998) Bioluminescence Annu. Rev. Cell Devel. Biol.14: 197-230

390. Fagan, Thomas., Hastings, J. Woodland and Morse, David. (1998) Phylogeny of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase indicates lateral transfer from cryptomonads to dinoflagellates. J. Mol. Evol. 47: 633-639

388. Knaust, R., Urbig, T., Li, L., Taylor, W., and Hastings, J.W. (1998) The circadian rhythm of bioluminescence in Pyrocystis is not due to differences in the amount of luciferase: A comparative study of the three bioluminescent marine dinoflagellates. J. Phycol. 34 : 167-172.

387. Li, L. and Hastings, J.W. (1998) The structure and organization of the Gonyaulax polyedra luciferase gene. Plant Molecular Biology 36: 275-284.

385. Le, Q.H., Markovic, P., Hastings, J.W., Jovine, R.V.M. and Morse, D. (1997) Structure and organization of the peridinin chlorophyll protein gene in Gonyaulax polyedra. Mol. Gen. Genetics 255: 595-604.

384. Mittag, Maria, Li, L. and Hastings, J.W. (1997) The mRNA level of the circadian regulated Gonyaulax luciferase remains constant over the cycle. Chronobiology International 15: 93-98.

383. Li, Liming, Hong, R. and Hastings, J. W. (1997) Three functional luciferase domains in a single polypeptide chain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 94: 8954-8958.

382. Mittag, M., Eckerskorn, C., Strupat, K., and Hastings, J.W. (1997) Differential translational initiation of lbp mRNA is caused by a small 5' open reading frame. FEBS Letts. 411: 245-250.

Complete listing of publications from the Hastings Lab

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Research Associate

Glassware Engineer

Look at cool photos of bioluminescent organisms.

For more information about circadian rhythms, try the NSF Center for Biological Timing.
More information about dinoflagellates:

If you are looking for software for molecular biology, try Pedro's Molecular Biology Tools, a huge collection of links to tools for biologists.

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Harvard University Biological Laboratories
16 Divinity Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138