Thursday, December 14, 2017
Bringing 'Avatar'-like glowing plants to the real world
If you have seen the movie Avatar, then you have seen the lush glow in the dark forests that captivate the viewers. Now, scientists are finding ways to create different bio-luminescent plants in the real world. Researches so far have tried to produce glowing greenery using the luminescent genes of certain bacteria and fire flies. They would genetically engineer these genes into tobacco plants in particular. The only problem with the way they tried to do this was that they didn't have much control over where the light-generating ingredients would end up in the plant. Michael S. Strano and his colleagues recently created nanoparticles that travel to certain locations in plants. The researchers then infused watercress and other plants with three different nanoparticles in a pressurized bath. The nanoparticles were loaded with light-emitting luciferin. They added coenzyme A which boosts luciferase activity. Adding this and being to somewhat control where the particles were ending up made their watercress plants half as bright as a commercial 1 microwatt LED and about 100,000 times brighter than genetically engineered tobacco plants. If I saw these plants for sale I know I would buy them immediately.