Tech we’d like to invent: glowing trees

Followers of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ will be fond of this one. Effectively, a gaggle of scientists have clearly announced they’d like to give the world glowing crops! (Yes, you read that right). The projected technology could, one day, offer us bioluminescent trees as an alternative to streetlights. The scientists’ eventual goal is to bring about vegetation so light that you might study by them in otherwise entire darkness.

The idea is to make use of a type of genetic engineering (purposely: Synthetic Biology, where scientists synthesize the desired genes as an alternative to purely splicing them in) that allows you to create a strain of plant that can glow, visibly, in the dark.

Yet, for all the considerable talk about replacing streetlamps, getting a potted plant to grow whatsoever, is job one.

Noticeably, we’ve seen ‘glowing’ insects and plants before, in fact, glowing zebra fish are a man-made innovation that are available in lots of pet shops. In those periods, a fluorescent jellyfish protein is spliced into the animal’s DNA, using the effect of making the animal glow, but only when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Why we want it:

Dude, glowing plants.

When can we look forward to it?

As I thought, it has been done already. A few years ago, a different team of scientists made a glowing tobacco plant by infusing it with genes from a type of light-emitting bacterium that lives in the sea. The trouble was, that the light emitted by the plant was not very bright. In fact, it was barely noticeable.

But, it’s not all doom and darkness (groan!). This is the kind of story that has for sale magazines and garners web hits, so anticipate it to accept plenty of coverage. Where there is coverage, there’s money and where there may be cash, there’s usually rapid expansion. Thus far, the crowd responsible for dreaming up this idea has garnered a lot more than $250,000 on United states website ‘’, so things are definitely moving ahead.

The potential for glowing floral displays, bouquets of dazzling flowers, light-emitting roses for bistros and so on will ensure that plenty of people will be donating to this idea, with much more planning to put money into the eventual products themselves.

…And that’s before we even get the green implications of an energy-efficient light source. The science fiction writer in me can’t prevent, but envisage this as a bold first step right into a biotechnological outlook, where the whole lot, including your computer, is self-sustaining. After all, what may be the Human brain if not the final natural workstation?

Nonetheless, I don’t know concerning the ‘Treetlamps’ (I actually trust they don’t get called that), but we can expect the essential technology to emerge fairly soon, I imagine. This new method absolutely has the possibility to accomplish its goals, however it’s hard to suggest accurately when (or if) that might be. For now, I’d leave it a decade, at least.

Cool Factor: 4/5

The environmental applications on their own are genuinely staggering. In addition, the sights we may just be treated to will be basically amazing. The list of applications for tech like this is as long as your arm and also the subject matter is both interesting and worth discussing at events. Bring over the glowing plants, I say!