Plants Used As Glowing Light Bulbs? Avatar, Eat Your Heart Out!

Wandering around alone at night on an empty street may now have a brighter future in store. A team of three researchers based out of San Francisco believe that they have harnessed the power of plants to illumine your way down the same frightening nocturnal street (or anywhere else, for that matter) in a manner that seems straight out of James Cameron's Avatar.

Only, this isn't a science-fiction fantasy film. Using plants as glowing light bulbs may actually be a reality soon enough thanks to the efforts of the three scientists working on the project who have already experienced some media buzz on their unique form of biosynthesis research.

"The plant that we're working on to make glow is called Arabidopsis," Team Project Manager Antony Evans said, as relayed by This Could Be Big. "It's got the shortest genomes in the plant world. And it has a reasonably slow life span, so you can do experiments quickly."

Antony -- along with synthetic biologist Omri Amirav-Drory and scientist Kyle Taylor -- are taking these experiments to the realm of innovative gene splicing. By manipulating the DNA of luminescent marine bacteria, they are trying to make said DNA compatible with that of a plant's in order to create a kind of mutant plant that glows like a light bulb.

Although the team has yet to actually make their plants glow in their "DIY lab" they mention in their Kickstarter video, the members are confident that their work will produce successful results soon enough and feel strongly that the applications of their research are substantial.

"Basically, this tech will have broad real applications," Evans said. "Plants and biology in general are very efficient at dealing with energy. Plants turn sunlight into energy that we eat every day. And so we could use those applications to approve the very nature of the world."

More information about the glowing plant research can be seen via the team's own blog that it updates daily in order to gain support from the scientific community (and financers) through crowdsourcing. The team is also setting up its own advisory board that it hopes will be able to contribute advice when it comes to ethical concerns of such work.

Evans and his group have already been able to meet the $65,000 Kickstarter goal they needed to continue their work and are well on their way to the total goal of $400,000. The group will be creating a glowing rose upon meeting their financial goal.

"We felt it would make a great icon ...and help stimulate interest in this fascinating field," Evans said.


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