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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168 Comments
  • big_beauty_girl
    big_beauty_girlThursday, December 10, 2020 at 10:14 am
    That's just beautiful! I agree with u maria_goodvibes
    • maria_goodvibes
      maria_goodvibesWednesday, December 9, 2020 at 3:30 pm
      Ooh i want one of these in my room!
      • therealsnakes
        therealsnakesMonday, December 7, 2020 at 2:09 pm
        that is super cool it glows in the dark
        • asand55
          asand55Friday, December 4, 2020 at 8:13 am
          They glow in the dark i'm surprised that it is made by a mioluisint mushroom
          • elyoo212
            elyoo212Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 7:45 pm
            The tobacco plants are very cool, but expensive
            • izzyev
              izzyevSunday, November 29, 2020 at 1:05 pm
              I would definitely would want to see this.
              • roseg2263
                roseg2263Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 10:27 am
                They should make succulents like that I would def get them 😍
                • star52
                  star52Monday, November 9, 2020 at 1:48 pm
                  I wonder if they'll be able to find an easier way to make them quicker and become cheaper.
                  • sportykid50
                    sportykid50Sunday, November 8, 2020 at 4:24 pm
                    This looks so cool
                    • roselover22
                      roselover22Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 10:41 am
                      I want those!
                      • sportykid50
                        sportykid50Sunday, November 8, 2020 at 4:25 pm
                        Yeh me too but they are expensive