Russian scientists were able to create plants that glow brightly in the dark throughout the life cycle. The study was conducted on two types of tobacco, in which genes were added to the DNA of bioluminescent fungi. Development will find applications not only for scientific purposes, scientists believe. According to forecasts of authors of the project, selling luminous ornamental plants will begin in two years.

Scientists from the Institute of Bioorganic chemistry named after academicians M. M. Shemyakin and Y. A. Ovchinnikov Russian Academy of Sciences (IBCH RAS) with participation of colleagues from the Institute of science and technology of Austria has created genetically modified plants that glow brightly in the dark. A study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology. The work was supported by the Russian science Foundation and the Fund “SKOLKOVO”.

Over the past 30 years scientists tried to create glowing plants. For this purpose, they used already existing in nature bioluminescent system of animals or bacteria and trying to instill luminescent properties of the flora. Some attempts, such as the use of genes of the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, have been relatively successful. However, to create a plant that would emit a bright light throughout his life, still could not — the genes of bacteria are difficult to combine with the genes of plants.

Russian scientists from the Institute of Bioorganic chemistry under the guidance of doctor of chemistry, head of Department of biomolecular chemistry Ilya Yampolsky was chosen as the “donor,” the Kingdom of fungi. They identified responsible for the luminescence gene of the fungus Neonotopanus nambi and found that it is a coffee derivative acids — organic molecules used by plants to build cell walls.

  • Young sprouts glowing tobacco
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“In the nature of a lot of glowing organisms, but among the plant Kingdom they are not. Fully transcribed genes for two of the bioluminescent system of bacteria and fungi. Bacteria are distant from plants evolutionary, so we used a system of mushrooms. We transcribed and inserted into plants. Fungal genes work very well,” — said in an interview with RT Ilya Yampolsky.

To create a stable and brightly luminescent plants was not enough to move several of the identified genes from one organism to another. Work on changing the metabolism of plants, scientists have compared with the setting of the clock mechanism, which is needed for perfect fit of new parts — elements of fungal bioluminescence.

After complete decryption of the mechanism of luminescence of the fungus, the scientists started setting up the genes of plants. The latest and most successful attempts they managed to create two genetically modified tobacco varieties that emit stable visible to the naked eye a green aura. Glow ten times exceeded the brightness that was obtained by a previous experiment of the same team.

As scholars have noted, a powerful mechanism of luminescence is embedded in the genes and does not require chemical replenishment from the outside, with a steady glow does not interfere with the plants to develop normally.

  • Glowing tobacco Bush with flowers
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The researchers also confirmed the possibility of such modification to others, including species of decorative plants — petunias, roses and periwinkle. As the results of recent work, glow emanates from the leaves, stems, roots and flowers continuously throughout the life cycle.

According to the authors, thanks to their discovery by biologists to observe processes in plants. While scientists believe that development will find application not only in scientific purposes. The scientists noted that the illumination of plants is constantly changing, forms unusual patterns and waves on the leaves. Especially bright luminescence is observed in the young shoots and flowers.

“Glow of our plants can be seen clearly now. We set ourselves the task to increase the brightness, to learn the ornamental species, including orchids and chrysanthemums. After that we plan to enter the market”, — shared his plans with RT Ilya Yampolsky.