Glowing plants

Engineering nature to sustain our needs” is exactly what the Glowing Plant Project aims to do. Synthetic biologist Omri Amirav-Drory, plant scientist Kyle Taylor and project leader Antony Evans are working together to engineer “a glow-in-the-dark plant using synthetic biology techniques that could possibly replace traditional lighting” – and perhaps even create glow-in-the-dark trees that would supplant (pun intended) the common street light. Bioluminescence – the production and emission of light by a living organism – is the overarching concept of the Glowing Plant Project, whose team members are essentially injecting flowering plants with genes for biolumine- scence. The approach can be divided into three basic steps: design, print and transform. The design phase consists of creating the DNA sequence of the first glowing plant using a software called Genome Compiler. The print phase includes printing the DNA at Cambrian Genomics, the first hardware/system for laser printing DNA. Lastly, the transform phase consists of transforming that custom DNA into the target plant in the Glowing Plant Lab in California. The team hopes to then ship glowing plant seeds to those who support their cause, allowing for a more hands-on experience with the new technology and its mass reproduction.

“The Glowing Plant is a symbol of the future, a symbol of sustainability and a symbol to inspire others to create new, living things,” says project leader Antony Evans. Inspired by fireflies and aquatic bioluminescence, Evans calls these methods “off-the-shelf” and old news in the biological world; the ends to which these methods are being utilized, however, might be revolutionary.

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Original sources: (0/23/2013) VDg (09/23/2013)