The Loh Down On Science

Could synthetic biology get kids to like vegetables?

glowingplant.com

Are we ready for a plant that glows in the dark?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

With adventures in synthetic biology.

Lots of things glow.  You know, bioluminescence?  Fireflies have it.  So do some tropical snails and those deep-sea fish that use glowing dangly lanterns to fish for other fish.

And plants glow!  So far just in labs, though, not in nature. 

But soon, you may be able to have your own glowing plant!  Thanks to a team of synthetic biologists in San Francisco.  They've inserted DNA sequences for bioluminescence into the genome of an Arabidopsis.  That's a small flowering plant related to cabbage and broccoli.  Once the flower adopts the new genes, its offspring will also have the genes to gleam.

The biologists funded their efforts through a successful Kickstarter campaign, with donors being the first to receive seeds for the glowing plants.

So will our streets one day be lined with living streetlights?  Maybe.  Or maybe not.  The researchers say they're hoping kids who see glowing plants will light up with excitement about science.

And about broccoli?  We can always hope.

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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