lu·​cif·​er·​ase lü-ˈsi-fə-ˌrās How to pronounce luciferase (audio)
: an enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of luciferin

Examples of luciferase in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Bioluminescence is believed to have evolved nearly 100 times across history, caused by a simple chemical reaction, when a light-producing molecule called a luciferin reacts with an enzyme called luciferase. Sam Jones, New York Times, 23 Apr. 2024 Just as in all bioluminescent organisms, the enzyme luciferase interacts with the compound luciferin to create light among the octocorals. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Apr. 2024 The process requires not only the synthesis of specialized chemicals like luciferin and luciferase but also the energy to fuel the light-producing reaction. Scott Travers, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 Bioluminescence is produced naturally when oxygen reacts with a substance called luciferin, with the help of an enzyme called luciferase, to produce energy in the form of light. WIRED, 19 Sep. 2023 Most bioluminescent organisms, including fireflies, get their glow from a chemical reaction between the enzyme luciferase and a molecule called luciferin. Leah Shaffer, Discover Magazine, 21 Jan. 2015 Oxygen combines with chemicals called luciferin and luciferase to generate light with almost no heat. USA Today, 2 June 2023 Most deep-sea anglerfish lures glow with light that is generated by an enzyme called luciferase. Jocelyn Rice, Discover Magazine, 27 Sep. 2010 One is a large enzyme called luciferase. Jason Bittel, Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'luciferase.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary, from luciferin

First Known Use

1888, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of luciferase was in 1888

Dictionary Entries Near luciferase

Cite this Entry

“Luciferase.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


lu·​cif·​er·​ase lü-ˈsif-ə-ˌrās, -ˌrāz How to pronounce luciferase (audio)
: an enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of luciferin

More from Merriam-Webster on luciferase

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