Light in plant and animal, the practical use of bio-photons

Meluna Research is in the frontline of scientists working on biophotonics. Meluna stands for MEasuring LUminescence in NAture. From 2004-2007 the Meluna team worked closely with Prof. F.A. Popp, who was one of the first to study the behaviour of biophotonics. He hypothesized that the behaviour of biophotons provides an important indicator of the health and vitality of humans, animals and food. This knowledge is being further developed by the International Institute of Life Energy (IILE), among others. In IILE, most bio-photon pioneers are meeting regularly. Saskia Bosman was part of that team and she shares a lot more information on her website

What are biophotons actually? How do you visualize their behaviour? What can this information mean for human, animal and plant health or for the health of the products we eat?

Living light

Bio-photons are photons in and of living systems. They play a role in the communication of cell-to-cell and organism-to-organism communication, in shaping the form field for biological development, in the coordination of metabolic processes, in the storage and transfer of energy. Moreover – as Popp (2007) and Van Wijk (2014) suggest – biophotons may play a role in our awareness and consciousness.

The discoverer of biophotones was Alexander Gurwitsch (explanation in the tekst below). At that time he spoke of mitogenetic radiation. Source:

The Russian researcher Alexander Gurwitsch discovered, almost a century ago, that an onion root-point appeared to stimulate the cell division of another onion root at a distance of 2 mm. So ‘something’ had to be transferred between both plant roots. Later it was confirmed that there is indeed an interaction between the 2 plants when there is a tube of quartz around it. Nothing happened however with a tube of glass in between. The hypothesis was therefore that the phenomenon had something to do with UV-light. UV-light indeed passes through quartz and not through glass. But Gurwitsch didn’t have any UV measuring equipment yet. Moreover, after the Second World War, this kind of research stopped, because by then, molecular research emerged strongly and has supplanted further frequency research. In recent years however, this light research has celebrated its comeback.


Ultra-weak light also plays a role in the soil. In bioluminescence, ultraweak light is released in reactions involving oxygen radicals.

The production of light probably follows these chemical reactions:

The reduction process : NADH + H++ Luciferine –> NAD+ +LH2

The oxidation process : LH2+ O2 –> LO+ H2O + light.

Bioluminescence is functional in the communication between microbes: there are light-sensitive receptors in the cell membrane of many microorganisms, they stimulate each other’s cell division and they also regulate the spatial orientation and distance between the cells.

Particle or wave: what do we measure?

Do we see light as particles or as waves? That depends on how we want to measure them. With a photomultiplier as an instrument you measure particles, with a CCD-camera however, you measure waves. So your choice of the instrument determines how you measure light. Because the molecular approach in biology (particle-based) started to dominate after 1950, it became interesting for frequency researchers (wave-based) to look at the effects of biophotonics at the molecular level. After all, money was available for that research.

The photo-multiplier, an instrument that amplifies the extremely weak light signals in such a way that they can be seen on a photosensitive plate. Source:

The photomultiplier was developed from the 1970s onwards for photon research considering photons as particles. It is called a multiplier, which means that more and more photons are released every next step. The most sensitive tubes release 1 electron per 4 photons. And so on, until enough electrons are released to be able to measure an electric signal: these signals together shape the image of light that we can see with our eyes on the photo paper or the computer screen.

From 1972 onwards F.A. Popp discovered that the photomultiplier tube is also suitable for photon research in living tissues. In West Germany, at the Internatonal Institute of Biophysics in Düsseldorf, he discovered that almost all life forms emit light in the visible and in the UV-domain. Apparently there is a biophotonic field around an organism. He also theorized that this photon field could play a role in the internal organisation of biological systems. This insight formed an important bridge between quantum physics and quantum biology. Since the 1970s, a third generation of biophotonics researchers has emerged: they look primarily at the information aspect of biophotonics, how is information transferred into a living system?

Highly light-sensitive CCD cameras are used when you consider light having a wave character. The measurement must be made in pitch darkness because the photon radiation is very weak. CCD cameras have also been improved and are capable now of counting individual photons. So you can count the number of photons on each pixel of the photo. Emission peaks can be recognized in the images: these are differences in the intensity of the photon emissions. For example, the skin underneath the nail stimulates the nail’s horn to emit more light. Something similar happens with a piece of white silk on the hand: the hand also stimulates the silk to emit photons. It may take hours before the total light pulse is processed into a still picture.