Researchers and engineers from an Idaho-based startup biotech company, Light Bio, successfully engineered petunia, a common ornamental plant, to give a bright green color during nighttime. Light Bio plans to start shipping the glow-in-the-dark genetically modified plants in 2024 after receiving permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this month.
Since its founding in 2019, the company has utilized genetic engineering techniques to incorporate DNA from a type of bioluminescent mushroom called Neonothopanus nambi into plants. N. nambi appears in a usual brown-colored mushroom during the day. However, at night, N. nambi produces bioluminescence as a result of the reaction of oxygen and a substance called luciferin, a compound responsible for the production of light energy in N. nambi.
According to Karen Sarkisyan, a synthetic biologist at Imperial College London and one of the engineers behind the petunias, the goal is to make a bioluminescent plant that creates an Avatar-movie-style garden at night. Aside from its decorative and aesthetic functions, these light-emitting plants also have the potential to light home interiors without electricity.

(Source: Crop Biotech Update, International Service for Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. www.isaaa.org)

Photo Credit: Light Bio.