Massachusetts scientists make plants glow in the dark

Man's desire to dispel darkness with man-made light costs us 20% of all generated energy in the world. Scientists at MIT suggest minimizing these costs by growing glowing plants instead of table lamps and streetlights. The most interesting thing is that their working prototype is not a mutant, and its glow can be turned on and off.

The idea comes from the last century - to introduce into plants the mechanism of glow of firefly beetles, so that photons of light are created in a passive way, just as a side part of the life process of flowers. However, attempts at radical genetic engineering more often fail than bring results, so MIT took an easier path. They identified three key components that give fireflies their luminescence and implanted them into lettuce leaves.

The glow in the beetle's abdomen begins when the luciferase enzyme acts on the luciferin substance molecule, and coenzyme A is used to enhance the process. Scientists have divided these components into two groups and placed them in polymer nanocapsules. Luciferase, together with silicon through fertilizers, penetrates deep into plant cells and remains there. It is necessary to spray it with a solution of luciferin and coenzyme A, as the reaction begins and light appears.

The luminous plant prototype is very dim, 1/1000 of the brightness needed to read the text. But this is just the beginning - the researchers believe that it will not be difficult for them to optimize the process and then adjust the release of fertilizers with luciferase. And then you just need to spray on the leaf so that it starts to glow, and for plants on the street, you can use the garden watering system. A simple yet useful element for the landscape design of the future.