Light Bio’s Bioluminescent Petunias Shine Bright With Newly Discovered Plant Gene

Breakthrough gene enables plants to emit moon-like glow, paving the way for luminous gardens and homes. 

<p>Using a gene native to plants further amplifies their bioluminescent, optimizing the interplay between light and energy.  LIGHT BIO VIA SWNS. </p>

The discovery of a new plant gene allows researchers to grow bioluminescent plants that both grow and glow in the dark. Synthetic biology startup Light Bio’s new Firefly Petunia plant harnesses this newly discovered plant gene to emit a natural glow similar to that of the moon.


The gene, which varies across different species, allows for the redirection of living energy into organic light that could soon illuminate our homes and gardens, with plans in place to make the plants even brighter. New research published in the journal Science Advances builds on similar previous research that showed the natural glow of luminous mushrooms also aligns with the metabolic processes of plants.


Using a gene native to plants further amplifies their bioluminescent, optimizing the interplay between light and energy. Previous methods for creating bioluminescent plants involved incorporating five genes derived from fungi.


However, in this latest study, researchers discovered that a solitary gene indigenous to plants can effectively substitute for two of the fungal genes. The plant gene’s compact size and simpler biological requirements also enhance its versatility for diverse applications.


The gene plays a pivotal role as a bridge between plant metabolism and light production, the researchers found. This connection allows the plant’s inner dynamics to be translated into a constantly changing spectacle of natural light.


The resulting bioluminescent plants, such as Light Bio’s glowing Firefly Petunia, have already proven widely popular. The Firefly, named after its bright buds that resemble fireflies, emits a soft green glow similar to that of moonlight.


Keith Wood, the company’s CEO said the new product is captivating consumer interest, saying: “Sales for this remarkable plant have been impressively robust.”


“We’ve had to ramp up production twice already to keep pace with the demand,” she added.


The company chose the petunia as its inaugural offering due to its popularity as an ornamental plant. Light Bio also recently announced that their plants now glow up to a hundred times brighter than previously possible, with the petunia standing out as the most radiant. Known for their ease of cultivation and prolific flowering, petunias were the ideal candidate for innovative light enhancement.


In September, following an independent review, the US Department of Agriculture deemed the Firefly Petunia safe for cultivation and breeding across the United States.


But Light Bio, in partnership with American biotech company Ginkgo Bioworks, hopes to make its future range of plants at least ten times brighter still, with an expanded range of varieties and colours. Beyond their fascinating aesthetics, the foundational science behind the plants offers profound insights into their molecular physiology.


The collaborative teams are confident that discoveries from this research will lead to further significant progress in essential fields such as crop development and disease resistance.


Produced in association with SWNS Talker