Scientists make glow-in-the-dark plants

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

The plants are modified with a special light-producing chemical.

Designer Daan Roosegaarde is the creative mind behind Smart Highway, an intelligent solar-powered road loaded with a bunch of cool features. Now, he has teamed up with a company called BioGlow to produce the Starlight Avatar, the world’s first naturally glowing plant. So far, their invention is just meant to prove that such a feat is possible, but in the future, they hope to use these plants as an affordable and eco-friendly light source.

In order to get the plants to glow, researchers altered their DNA (tiny cellular blueprints) to include luciferin, the same chemical that gives jellyfish their subtle radiance. The change was made in a region of the plant known as the chloroplast, which is responsible for catching sunlight and producing energy.

The result of these small changes is that a plant can produce its own light without solar panels, batteries, or applying special chemicals to its body.

According to the researchers, the Starlight Avatar has a light intensity level of 5,000-10,000 lux, or about one third the intensity of sunlight. It’s about as intense as starlight, once a person gives their eye a chance to adjust to the dark. Sadly, it only has a lifespan of about 2 to 3 months when taken care of properly. One day, though, these living lightbulbs just might give your home a stylish and environmentally-friendly light source. Until then, scientists are working on a way to make bioluminescent plants glow brighter and last longer.

Images courtesy of BioGlow.