Glow-in-the-dark plants could soon light up homes, driveways, gardens and public roadways.
Light-emitting plants have been under study for the past 30 years; plants painted with dye, or injected with chemicals or juiced with ultraviolet (UV) light induce a temporary light emission.
But Bioglow’s plants are the first “autonomously luminescent” (or autoluminescent) plants that emit their own light. According to Bioglow, the plant’s light emission machinery is encoded on a cellular level allowing it to constantly emit visible light during its life cycle. Just like fireflies!
Bioglow founder Dr. Alexander Krichevsky conceived the idea while studying bioluminescence of marine bacteria and molecular biology of plants. Several years of R&D resulted in the first glowing plants, described in a 2010 article in the international, peer-reviewed science journal PLOS One.
The first commercially available glow-plant named Starlight Avatar was unveiled in 2013 and autoluminescent plants have been offered at auction, giving everyone a chance to buy a living night-light.
Other glowing plant companies have sprouted (check out the glowing plants project on Kickstarter), but Bioglow is the movement’s pioneer. Currently, the plants’ lifespan is about three months, but as biotechnology develops, it’s possible that the plants could act as biological night lights – renewable light sources with wide application.
Things that glow-in-the-dark fascinate. From bioluminescent plankton that sets sea afire to goofy 1960’s hippie black-light posters, to today’s luminescent paints and yarns and beads – we are suckers for shimmer.
In other (disturbing!) news – ten Chinese piglets are aglow after being injected (as embryos) with a fluorescent protein found in jellyfish. Under black light, the pigs have a greenish tint. GMO’s at their worst? Or best?
(See the video link below.)
Last year, Turkish scientists hatched a litter of glow-in-the-dark rabbits. Researchers hope to use the technique on larger animals like sheep and cows.
How do you feel about genetic manipulation of living beings to make them “useful” to mankind?
Image of glowing plants from Bioglow