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Light-producing plants not science fiction anymore

Glowing Plant Arabidopsis produces light on its own
Glowing Plant Arabidopsis produces light on its ownGlowing Plant

Don’t look now, but those eerie glowing plants in the background of science fiction films aren’t science fiction anymore. Two separate companies have engineered bioluminescent plants that produce light on their own and are ready to offer them to the public reports NBC News on January 15.

Research on modifying the genomes of plants by adding luminous bacteria to create chemicals called luciferins has finally paid off and resulted in plants that produce their own light. Researchers have been working on producing bioluminescent plants since the 80's and are now ready to share these unique plants with the world.

Both Bioglow and Glowing Plant are ready to put their plants in the hands of consumers. While both have produced glowing plants, there are some significant differences in the cost and the restrictions to the buyer.

Bioglow will hold an auction of 20 glowing nicotania plants, named "Starlight Avatar", later this year. Interested parties can preregister for the auction, but must enter into a license agreement before purchasing the plant. Stipulations include that the buyer will not reproduce, preserve, sell or otherwise distribute the plant to others. The buyer must agree to use the plant for personal ornamental use only. The auction price for "Starlight Avatar" is not known at this time.

Glowing Plant, however offers its plants on an open source platform without restriction so the use of the plant. Glowing Plant's Antony Evans told NBC News:

“All of the pieces and parts and DNA we synthesize will be made available, and we hope that from that there will be a lot of innovation."

Both plants and seeds can be pre-ordered now on the Glowing Plant website for shipment in September 2014. Glowing Plant offers 50 to 100 seeds of “Glowing Plant Arabidopsis” for $50, a live “Glowing Plant Arabidopsis” plant for $100 and plans to offer a glowing rose by June 2015 for $150.

Although these plants will live and produce a small amount of light on their own, the current lifespan of the plants is 2 to 3 months. The projected lifespan of the rose to be released by Glowing Plant in 2015 is unknown.