Genetically Modified Bioluminescent Plant Soon to Hit the Market

Published by Cédric - Tuesday, February 20, 2024 - Other Languages: FR, DE, ES, PT
Article Author: Cédric DEPOND
Source: Nature Methods

A new era is dawning in the world of horticulture with the imminent arrival of bioluminescent petunias on the American market. Light Bio, an innovative synthetic biology startup, has just announced the launch of its petunias, named Firefly Petunia, available for pre-order on their website for 29 dollars.

These petunias, the result of a collaboration with notable biotechnology leaders such as NFX and Ginkgo Bioworks, open up a new perspective in the horticultural industry by introducing a new category of plants capable of emitting a glow, thus transforming both indoor and outdoor spaces into a true spectacle of light.

The secret to this luminescence lies in innovative genetic modifications, detailed in the journal Nature Methods. A team of 26 scientists, working across 9 research organizations, managed to enhance the bioluminescence of various plants by up to 100 times, optimizing genes from different species of luminous fungi.

This breakthrough is based on an earlier discovery, revealing a surprising similarity between the bioluminescence of fungi and the metabolism of plants. By inserting DNA from fungi into plants, researchers succeeded in creating a more visible and autonomous luminescence, without the need for external assistance.

The Firefly™ petunias, which will be available from April, offer particularly remarkable brightness, especially in the flower buds. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has already approved their cultivation in the United States, ensuring their environmental safety.

These petunias are not only an aesthetic feat but also a significant advancement for plant biology research. They pave the way for new prospects, both in terms of ornamentation and the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of plants.
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