St. Louis-based biotech company Bioglow has put 20 of its light-emitting plants up for auction. First off, here’s where you can bid. The plant, called Starlight Avatar, glows blue-green throughout its life cycle, but lives only for two to three months.
To create the plants, Bioglow added genes from bioluminescent marine bacteria to the chloroplast genome of an ornamental species of tobacco called Nicotiana alata. Back in 2010, Bioglow scientists published a description of this process, which has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in the journal PLOS ONE; you can read it here.
Don’t try to grow the Starlight Avatar in your backyard — it’s a sensitive plant that’s meant to be kept indoors. According to Bioglow, the light-emitting pathway can’t be transferred by pollen to other plant populations. (Phew? Darn?)
In the future, Bioglow wants to engineer plants with petals that glow one color and leaves another. Beyond offering glow-in-the-dark greenery for your windowsill, Bioglow has some ambitious goals for its autoluminescent plants. The company hopes to delve into sustainable lighting, such as marking the sides of driveways and highways with the sprouts in order to reduce dependency on electricity and fossil fuels.