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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web In 2010, borrowing genes from marine bacteria, Krichevsky engineered tobacco plant DNA to include both luciferase and luciferin-producing proteins for a prototype that eventually became his glowing Starlight Avatar plant. Leah Shaffer, Discover Magazine, 21 Jan. 2015 Frank Swain writes about glowing trees, engineered with a gene called luciferase. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 27 Nov. 2010 One of their prototype materials senses the pollutant estradiol, while another could detect luciferase, a bioluminescent protein. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 24 Jan. 2022 The pseudoviruses also contain an enzyme called luciferase, which is what makes fireflies glow, and which helps researchers track the antibodies’ effects on the pseudovirus. Peter Loftus, WSJ, 8 Dec. 2021 That claim has been debunked: The Covid-19 vaccines do not contain luciferase. Jordan Valinsky, CNN, 10 Nov. 2021 So do Covid-19 vaccines have either luciferase or luciferins as Robinson suggested? Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 3 Nov. 2021 Similarly, luciferase enzymes have very little to do with Lucifer. Bruce Y. Lee, Forbes, 3 Nov. 2021 To turn leaves into a light source, Strano uses luciferase, the enzyme responsible for a firefly’s glow. Mark Ellwood, WSJ, 15 May 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'luciferase.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 7 Feb. 2023.

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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