Fireflies emit light when a compound called luciferin breaks down. Scientists know that this reaction needs oxygen, but what they didn't know was how fireflies actually supply oxygen to their light-emitting cells.
According to the , state-of-the-art-imaging revealed that oxygen is key to being able to light up their cells. Fireflies divert oxygen from other cellular functions and put it towards the reaction that breaks up luciferin. Specifically, the researchers found that oxygen consumption in the cell decreased, slowing down energy production. At the same time, oxygen supply increased for light-emission reactions.