Why use a light bulb to illuminate your home when you could just fill it with glowing plants? That’s the question asked by Antony Evans, the head of a team of bio-engineers in San Francisco, California. The team has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a project that will use the glowing genes from fireflies and bacteria to create plants that shine. By using synthetic biology and Genome Compiler software, the have already managed to modify Arabidopsis plants, and they’re working on glowing roses.
To make the glowing plants, the team first uses the Genome Compiler software to identify a plant’s DNA. Cambrian Genomics then custom prints the sequence. The genes are then inserted into an Arabidopsis plant, which is closely related to mustard and cabbage. The main sequence responsible for making the plant glow is known as luciferase (it can also be found in fireflies). While this is not the first time that luciferase has been used to make a plant light up, it is the first instance where scientists have been able to get the gene to recycle itself and make the plant especially bright.
Not surprisingly, the team has already surpassed their $65,000 Kickstarter goal. Through their project, they hope to educate the public on the potential for bioluminescent lighting, and to one day help curb the energy needed to power lighting systems. Backers who pledge $40 or more will receive a packet of 50-100 seeds that will only be available through Kickstarter. A pledge of $150 or more will get you a fully grown glowing plant that is ready to brighten up your home or office. The project is a part of a growing movement to promote biological engineering for the next generation of design.
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