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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177 Comments
  • iininax
    iininaxabout 2 months
    I would like one in my room especially when my brother gets scared.
    • pinklilcow
      pinklilcow3 months
      That cool!I want one now!
      • 10s
        10s2 months
        me too
      • pink_koala
        pink_koala3 months
        So cool to grow glowing plants in our house! But in future, if scientists make plants glow rainbow colors, we can grow rainbow plants!
        • darklight_rp
          darklight_rp4 months
          AWESOME!!!!
          • linalol
            linalol8 months
            Cool
            • kittylover111
              Omg sooo pretty! I love the bright glow of that green.
              • love-art
                love-art9 months
                They are so beautiful!
                • kat7904
                  kat790410 months
                  are they eatable?
                  • foxy99
                    foxy9910 months
                    if it is edible will it make our tongs glow?
                    • zamasu
                      zamasu6 months
                      Sorry, but most likely, it is NOT edible at all.
                      • kittylover111
                        That's a funny thought!
                    • ilovetacoslol
                      ilovetacoslol11 months
                      Cool!
                      • emshappyplanet
                        That’s amazing!