Firefly enzymes make plants shine

Firefly enzymes make plants shine

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Will luminous plants and trees replace electric light in the future?

If it is up to the researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the answer is yes. The MIT researchers have taken an important first step towards realizing this vision. They were able to implant special luminous nanoparticles in the leaves of watercress. The plant then gave enough light to read a book for four hours. The MIT scientists believe it is possible to optimize this process so that plants can illuminate a workplace for a whole day.

Plants as a floor lamp

According to Michael Strano, Professor of Chemistry at MIT, the vision of this project is to develop a plant that takes over the task of a desk lamp - and this completely without electricity. The light is supplied solely by the energy that the plant generates through metabolism. Other future visions are soft room lighting and even glowing trees that could serve as street lighting. In the future, plants could take on more and more functions for which electric light is currently used. That would make a huge contribution to environmental protection, since around 20 percent of the world's electricity is used for lighting.

Plants are the better lamps

“Plants can heal damage themselves, they generate their own energy and are already adapted to the environment. Technical devices, on the other hand, have to be supplied with electricity; technical defects make them unusable or require repair. They also have to be protected against the weather, ”explains Professor Strano.

How do the glowing plants work?

The MIT scientists used enzymes from the luciferase family to develop the luminous plants. The same enzymes also make glow worms glow. The enzyme causes luciferin molecules to glow. The MIT researchers created nanoparticles that contain luciferin, among other things, and mixed these particles with a liquid. The plant is immersed in this liquid and under pressure the nanoparticles then settle in the leaf cells and enable lighting. An integrated inhibitor can switch off the lights again. In the future, the researchers want to optimize the plant so that the lighting reacts to external influences and, for example, goes out automatically when daylight is bright enough. (fp)

Author and source information

Video: How To Clean Rubber Plant Leaves (July 2022).


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