Tagging a gene with bioluminescent material is being used extensively in biological research, its one of the easiest ways to track genetic signals and pathways in living cells. By engineering the light emitting genes into bacteria , it has been possible to follow the progress of bacterial infections, and to detect bacterial pathogens.. 

Bioluminescence is being used in the visualization of gene expression, in the non invasive analysis of cancer cells, and is also being used in current research in the fight against AIDS - although the small size of viruses makes gene insertion more difficult, studies have been initiated to attempt to track the progression of the AIDS virus by changing the cells of the animal to glow when a virus invades.