Most people know about light emitting organisms such as jellyfishes, fireflies and mushrooms. Some time ago, genetic engineers transferred genes responsible for the luciferin and luciferase proteins into a tobacco plant. These firefly proteins were then manufactured by the tobacco plant, causing it to glow and emit light.
What if this technology could be extended further to say, a maple tree or a juniper bush? Designer Audrey Richard-Laurent speculates on combining trees and streetlights into bioluminescent trees. In urban areas, one usually sees a row of trees parallel to streetlights. Why not hybridize them?
An elegant, yet far fetched idea? Don't be to sure. Already in 2007 Edward A Quinto of the International Society for Bioluminescence and Chemiluminescence produced a glowing christmas tree.
Bioluminescence works to replicate processes for creating light found in chemical reactions in the natural world–such as with certain jellyfish or bacteria–for human purposes. Chemiluminescence refers to the emission of light with limited emission of heat as a result of chemical reaction. Many researchers feel that both of these processes have the potential to produce sustainable, non-petroleum-based light sources.
Other potential applications might be glow in the dark designer pets, agricultural crops and domestic plants that luminesce when they need watering, new methods for detecting bacterial contamination of meats and other foods and glowing grass on golf yards that allow you to play golf after dark.
See also: Green glowing monkeys, the blogging houseplant.