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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145 Comments
  • livyanna87
    livyanna87Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 12:46 pm
    i like this story i love it its cool
    • kittypowerrosie
      kittypowerrosieSunday, October 18, 2020 at 4:56 pm
      You know what! I’m going to get my own glowing plant! I never knew that they glowed in the night and day. I thought they only glowed in the night but it is even more cool when they glow in the day and night. I would use it as my night light. My cats would probably eat it.
      • corgigirll
        corgigirllThursday, October 15, 2020 at 9:12 am
        that is soo awesome!👁️♥️🌱
        • rliey9646
          rliey9646Wednesday, October 7, 2020 at 4:48 pm
          Omg!!! That is so cool! I wish I when there.
          • valenrxsesw
            valenrxseswWednesday, October 7, 2020 at 4:38 am
            This is very interesting. It sounds and looks very cool!
            • starlight900
              starlight900Friday, September 25, 2020 at 9:38 am
              Thats so cool! I would love to have one of those in my room!
              • squirrelflight
                squirrelflightSaturday, September 19, 2020 at 9:56 am
                That. Looks. Amazing. I have never seen a glow in the dark plant!
                • starlight900
                  starlight900Friday, September 25, 2020 at 9:39 am
                  that's so cool
                • indigotheiris
                  indigotheirisThursday, September 17, 2020 at 6:42 am
                  What a neat night light! 🤣
                  • fambro86
                    fambro86Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 4:24 am
                    that artical was so interesting
                    • hayes0423
                      hayes0423Tuesday, September 15, 2020 at 8:48 am
                      i love this idea