Technology has come a long way since Edison patented the light bulb back in 1880. A group of undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are launching a project to crowdfund the production of the Biobulb—a light bulb that uses bacteria to glow in the dark. Essentially creating an “ecosystem in a jar”, the bulb takes advantage of a host of microorganisms and natural light to feed the shining bacteria.

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The Biobulb uses a strain of that has been engineered to incorporate a plasmid that encodes genes for bioluminescence. Their project plans to experiment with different proteins in order to maximize the amount of light given off by the bacteria. They also hope to find a way to avoid mutations, code for different color emissions, and to begin experimenting with different triggers to coax the bacteria to give of light on cue.

The bacteria are fed by a host of other microorganisms selected by the team to play unique roles in the cycling of nutrients. By creating a living light bulb, the group hopes to promote the field of synthetic biology. The Biobulb is currently a finalist in the Popular Science #CrowdGrant Challenge and the subject of a RocketHub campaign. For a pledge of $100, the team will send a starter kit that lets biology buffs create a bacteria bulb of their own.

Via Discovery News