Spectacular Glow-In-The Dark Plants May Soon Be Lighting Up Your Homes

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Scientists created glow-in-the-dark plants by using DNA from bioluminescent mushrooms (Credit: Planta/MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences)

Over the years, there have been numerous attempts to create "glow-in-the-dark" plants. However, none of the approaches — which included infusing plants with nanoparticles of the luciferins and enzymes needed for the phenomenon to occur, or incorporating them with bacterial bioluminescence genes – proved feasible.

The attempts either resulted in dimly-lit flora, negatively impacted the plant's health, or were too expensive and cumbersome to implement on a large scale. Now, a team of Russian and British scientists has found a way to grow sustainable glowing plants by naturally altering their DNA.

The tobacco flowers emitted the most light (Credit: Planta/ MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences)

Karen Sarkisyan from the London Institute of Medical Sciences and Ilia Yampolsky of the Russian Academy of Sciences began by inserting four genes from a bioluminescent mushroom called Neonothopanus nambi into the DNA of tobacco plants. The genes were all related to enzymes that help the fungi convert caffeic acid, which is naturally present in all plants, into luciferin that emits energy as light. More importantly, the enzymes turned the resulting substance back into caffeic acid, allowing the cycle to repeat forever.

The resulting plants projected a greenish hue that was about ten times brighter than that produced by plants infused with bioluminescent bacterial genes. Though the entire plant lit up, the flowers put up the most dazzling light show. "They glow both in the dark and in the daylight," said Sarkisyan. While the study was conducted on tobacco plants, the scientists assert the method can be easily used in other plants as well.

Photos of a glowing tobacco plant in ambient light and in the dark (Credit: Planta/ MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences)

The team, who published the findings in the journal Nature Biotechnology on April 27, 2020, believe that once perfected, the bioluminescent flora would be a fun and useful addition to any household. They think the glowing greenery will also allow researchers to explore the inner-workings of plants more effectively. “In the future, this technology can be used to visualize activities of different hormones inside the plants over the lifetime of the plant in different tissues, absolutely non-invasively. It can also be used to monitor plant responses to various stresses and changes in the environment, such as drought or wounding by herbivores,” Sarkisyan told The Guardian.

Resources: theguardian.com,gizmodo.com,cen.acs.org

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171 Comments
  • linalol
    linalolWednesday, March 31, 2021 at 10:18 am
    Cool
    • kittylover111
      kittylover111Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 6:23 am
      Omg sooo pretty! I love the bright glow of that green.
      • love-art
        love-artWednesday, March 3, 2021 at 2:10 pm
        They are so beautiful!
        • kat7904
          kat7904Monday, February 8, 2021 at 7:08 am
          are they eatable?
          • foxy99
            foxy99Monday, February 8, 2021 at 10:28 am
            if it is edible will it make our tongs glow?
            • kittylover111
              kittylover111Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 6:23 am
              That's a funny thought!
          • ilovetacoslol
            ilovetacoslolTuesday, January 12, 2021 at 12:54 pm
            Cool!
            • emshappyplanet
              emshappyplanetSunday, January 10, 2021 at 5:24 pm
              That’s amazing!
              • xxbearxx
                xxbearxxThursday, December 17, 2020 at 5:27 pm
                That is so awesome! I would definitely want one in my room.
                • sydney_zepp
                  sydney_zeppWednesday, December 16, 2020 at 6:19 pm
                  I kinda want one, and if they start selling them everywhere I'd get one for my older sister who is married and lives 3 hours away from me.
                  • acornyo101
                    acornyo101Wednesday, December 16, 2020 at 7:24 am
                    That’s a bad idea because YOU CANT TURN IT OFF!!!
                    • kat7904
                      kat7904Monday, February 8, 2021 at 7:09 am
                      just put a bucket over it then it would turn off :)
                    • erza_scarlet_ft
                      erza_scarlet_ftMonday, December 14, 2020 at 11:46 am
                      I would love to have one of these in my room! It's just how the way they light up is so cool!!