A room full of bright green plants at night isn’t the right setting for many, but stranger ideas have been seen. This is what researchers want, now that they have successfully genetically modified plants glow in the dark prolonged and without reducing the life of the plant. And the results do not disappoint.
It is not the first time, nor the second, nor probably the last, that luminous plants have been created. But this time it’s different from the previous ones, because the technique used varies. The basic principle is that the plant contains luciferin, a compound that provides light in bioluminescent organisms. The way in which luciferin is supplied to the plant varies.
In a study published in Nature, a team of researchers showed the technique used to make their plants glow. For that inserted four genes from a bioluminescent fungus into the DNA of tobacco plants called Neonothopanus nambi. These genes convert the plant’s caffeic acid to luciferin, which emits energy in the form of light, and then ultimately returns the caffeic acid to its original state. Result? Tobacco plants that glow at night (yes, ‘The Simpsons’ predicted that before).
Through other methods that insert luciferin directly with nanoparticles into the plant, it is generated in the plant. As a result, each plant does not have to be treated separately to make them glow and they do not die of poisoning after a while. Researchers saw how plants grew and how luciferin has passed from one place to another, being in flowers where more luminescence was obtained. The plants shine day and night.
Shedding light on research (literally)
Precisely the fact that the method used is based on the modification of genes allows researchers does not interfere as much in the growth and function of plants general. As a result, it is possible to better analyze the interior of the plant and how it reacts to certain situations. Because plants, no matter what they don’t feel, have systems to respond to external stimuli such as rain or the sound of an approaching pollinating insect.
Bright plants can literally inform research on flora. But on the other hand, maybe we can also have in the future phosphorescent plants at home as decoration, or as some expected, the street lamps in the city.