MIT Engineers Have Developed Plants That Glow In the Dark


A major step has been taken by the researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, towards making the vision of glowing plan a reality.

The researchers included plants to release dim light for about four hour, by embedding certain nanoparticles in to leaves of the watercress plant. They think that, such plants may become one day the bright enough for illuminating a workspace.

A leading author of the study and Carbon P. Dubbs Professor, Michael Strano from the Chemical Engineering at MIT said in a statement that, “The vision is to make a plant that will function as a desk lamp—a lamp that you don’t have to plug in. The light is ultimately powered by the energy metabolism of the plant itself.”

The invention could be also used to supply indoor lighting with low intensity and to turn trees into the self-powered streetlights, according to the researchers.

MIT team of researchers turned to luciferase, which is an enzyme that provides fireflies to their shine, to create such glowing plants. Luciferase plays a role of acting on the molecule known as luciferin, which allows it to emit light.

Co-enzyme A is also another molecule that helps this technique along by cutting the reaction byproduct which can impede luciferase activity.

Michael Strano added to the statement that, “Our target is to perform one treatment when the plant is a seedling or a mature plant, and have it last for the lifetime of the plant. Our work very seriously opens up the doorway to streetlamps that are nothing but treated trees, and to indirect lighting around homes. Plants can self-repair, they have their own energy, and they are already adapted to the outdoor environment. We think this is an idea whose time has come. It’s a perfect problem for plant nano bionics.”