Glowing Plants: The Next Big Opportunity?

Glowing Plants: The Next Big Opportunity?

The notion of plants glowing in the dark is a captivating one. From the Scarlet Flower based in Slavic folklore to the Pandora forests in the movie “Avatar,” people have been mesmerized by the possibility of plants and flowers illuminating the night.

In the past, both scientists and growers have tried to make plants glow, and these attempts have been noticed by the general and science media. However, all of the “glowing plants” generated so far required either chemicals to be sprayed on them to induce glow for a short period of time, or external “black light” illumination to achieve the glow-like effect–or both.

Some recent examples are illuminating roses and mums sold under the brand name Glowing Flowers at the FloraHolland auction in Naaldwijk, Netherlands. These plants have been treated with a patented dye and then exposed to daylight or black light to “charge” them to emit light for a limited period of time. Both have sold at about 50 percent more than what the untreated flowers sell for, demonstrating that people are so excited by plants glowing in the dark that they’re even prepared to pay a premium for them.

New Technology

Now, the next generation of glowing plants is here. Bioglow, a biotechnology company that specializes in state-of-the-art genetic engineering, has developed a transgenic technology that enables living plants to emit light visible to the naked human eye. Unlike other glowing plants, the glow of these new autonomously luminescent (autoluminescent) plants is a natural part of the plant’s life cycle and is not dependent on any chemicals or external black light sources. The autoluminescent plants are an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative.

The autoluminescent plants were generated using an advanced genetic engineering approach. A complete metabolic pathway required for light emission has been genetically engineered into the plant’s genetic material, becoming an integral part of the plant and allowing for inherent light emission. The glow continues throughout the life of the plant and is stable from generation to generation.

Just like the firefly or any other naturally glowing organism, autoluminescent plants simply glow. The prototype plants developed by Bioglow belong to nicotiana species–the model organism in plant molecular research.

Impressions

Bioglow invited several growers and retailers from the New York City area to check out the autoluminescent plants firsthand. Here are a few impressions:

- “I was intrigued when I received a phone call from Alex and his partners asking me if I would be interested in seeing glowing plants. Although the Nicotiana plants glowed only feebly, Alex explained it would be possible to produce robustly glowing plants in the near future. He then went on to describe the limitless possibilities of transgenic technology. Leaving there, I could not help but feel that floriculture as I understood it was about to change dramatically.”–Jeff Keil, manager and grower, Otto Keil Florists

- “Seeing plants glow was a remarkable experience. I am very excited about glowing plants and believe they will be a significant introduction to the industry. Glowing plant technology can enhance the landscape, offering unique and beautiful changes to both perennial and annual plantings and beds. Seasonal displays will also benefit from the addition of glowing stems. The possibilities are endless. Landscaping with glowing plants may also help to conserve electricity, limiting the need for electric landscape lighting regularly used in gardens. I have no doubt consumers will be thrilled to see living glowing plants outside their homes and in their private gardens.”–Noah Schwartz, head grower, Garden State Growers

What’s Next?

The first glowing Nicotiana prototype plant is, as Keil points out, relatively dim and requires dark-adapted eyes to see. Bioglow is currently working on enhancing light output levels of the autoluminescent plants, increasing their aesthetic appeal and making them more charming.

Bioglow’s technology potentially enables conversion of essentially any plant species into a glowing variety. Moreover, the emitted light can further be modified in color and even segregated to specific plant parts (i.e. leaves, flowers), providing for an essentially unlimited variety of glowing plants.

The experience with prototype Nicotiana plants shows glowing plants do not require any special treatment and do not differ in any regard–growth rate, size, etc.–from their regular, non-glowing counterparts. The plants demonstrate that growing autoluminescent plants will fit perfectly into the existing practices of the floriculture industry.

The autoluminescent plants are aimed to captivate the consumer’s imagination. One can envision a wide range of glowing plants as consumer products, from exclusive glowing plants for weddings and high-end private gardens to landscape plants lighting driveways and backyards.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Glowing Plants: The Next Big Opportunity?

  1. Respected sir Alex, I am really inspired bu your technology, I would like to work with you after i complete my M.Phil in Biotechnology. I am a student of biotechnology here in Pakistan, FC College University, Lahore.I am a rapstar, and a Part -time school teacher. Please reply if possible at my mail address. Thank you. God bless you and Best of luck. Waiting

More From ...
Hendriks-Half-Open-Roof_GGS

March 26, 2015

10 Greenhouse Products For First-Rate Growing Environments

From coverings to fork-lifts, greenhouse suppliers offer a variety of products to make growing easier. Check out the slideshow to learn more about these, plus several other products that can offer you value, versatility and durability.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Horticulture Priorities

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadlines Approaching

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More
Latest Stories
Hendriks-Half-Open-Roof_GGS

March 26, 2015

10 Greenhouse Products For First-Rate Growing Environme…

From coverings to fork-lifts, greenhouse suppliers offer a variety of products to make growing easier. Check out the slideshow to learn more about these, plus several other products that can offer you value, versatility and durability.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Hor…

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadl…

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More

March 25, 2015

13 New Shrubs You’ll Find At The 2015 California …

Woody ornamentals serve as the foundation of many great landscapes, but beyond their traditional uses, shrubs also add color, structure, texture and interest to small gardens and even containers. Check out this slideshow to see some of the newest introductions you’ll get to see at this year’s California Spring Trials.

Read More

March 25, 2015

NASS Reports U.S. Honey Production Was Up By 19 Percent…

Honey production in 2014 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 178 million pounds, up 19 percent from 2013, according to a March 20 report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Read More
Bloomtown_Screen Shot 2015-03-10

March 24, 2015

Bloomtown Exposes Consumers To The World Of Horticultur…

A new web series called Bloomtown is all about the mud, sweat and tears of horticulture. Filmed in St. Louis, Mo., it chronicles the world of horticulture using local flower growers, greenhouses, wholesalers, florists, consumers, retail shops and arborists, with the goal of opening consumers’ eyes to the world of horticulture around them.

Read More
OxiPhos_BioSafe2

March 23, 2015

BioSafe Makes Label Changes To OxiPhos And ZeroTol 2.0

There have been some recent label changes made to the BioSafe Systems product OxiPhos, a systemic bactericide/fungicide that reduces downy mildew spores when tank mixed with ZeroTol 2.0.

Read More

March 23, 2015

UF/IFAS Appoints Joseph Albano As Director Of Mid-Flori…

The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has a new directors for its Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (REC) on Apopka, Fla. The role has been filled by Joseph Albano, a research horticulturist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with more than 25 years of experience.

Read More
Nufarm_logo

March 23, 2015

Nufarm Fungicides Now Registered For Use On Edible Crop…

Nufarm Americas announced label expansions for two of its fungicides that will provide more pest management options for the ornamental industry. The Cleary 3336 F and EG fungicides are now registered for use across a wider range of edible crops, including select greenhouse vegetables and transplants, herbs and backyard fruit.

Read More

March 23, 2015

Update To Armitage’s Greatest Perennials & Annuals …

A new update to the Greatest Perennials & Annuals app narrows the gap between consumers and grower-retailers, while providing more of Armitage’s top picks and growing advice for success with plants.

Read More
Plantbid website screenshot

March 20, 2015

Plantbid Brings Open Sourcing To Greenhouse Growers

Plantbid bridges the gap between buyers and sellers for sales and marketing networking on their own terms. The web-based, plant-sourcing platform aims to save growers time and make the business of buying and selling plants more efficient.

Read More
National Floriculture Forum 2015 029

March 18, 2015

2015 National Floriculture Forum Focuses On Marketing I…

The 2015 National Floriculture Forum, held March 6 to 7 in Minneapolis, Minn., zeroed in on the topic of marketing in horticulture and included visits to Gertens Greenhouses and Garden Center, Bailey Nurseries, Bachman’s Floral, Home and Garden and Tangletown Gardens. The annual meeting allows greenhouse and floriculture faculty, graduate students and industry partners to meet and share updates on current research, issues and initiatives.

Read More

March 18, 2015

H-2B Situation Goes From Bad To Even Worse

On March 5, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it will no longer accept or process H-2B labor certifications or requests for H-2B prevailing wage determinations in light of a March 4 decision. Shortly after the DOL announcement, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services followed suit, announcing it will at least temporarily cease approving visa petitions. These announcements essentially shut down the H-2B program for any company that has not completed the DHS H-2B visa petitioning process.

Read More
SAF CAD

March 18, 2015

Growers Ask For Immigration And Healthcare Reform Durin…

Nearly 90 growers, retailers, suppliers and wholesales attended the Society of American Florists' (SAF) 2015 Congressional Action Days March 9-10. The delegation, representing 18 states, arrived on Capitol Hill at a time when two major industry issues - immigration and healthcare reform - are especially prominent in national headlines.

Read More
2014 Poinsettia Season Report

March 18, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Poinsettia Seas…

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish. Greenhouse Grower’s 2014 Poinsettia Survey received 143 responses from growers around the country. Here, you can download the complete results of the survey, by filling out the form.

Read More

March 17, 2015

Pike Nurseries Implements Employee Stock Ownership Plan

Independent garden retailer Pike Nurseries has announced it will become an employee-owned company. Pike Nurseries management has combined with its sister corporation in California, Armstrong Garden Centers, to operate under an established Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

Read More
Hydrangea 'Endless Summer BloomStruck' from Bailey Nurseries

March 17, 2015

Michael Dirr Slated To Address Attendees At Hydrangeas …

Dr. Michael Dirr to deliver the keynote address at Hydrangeas 2015 conference, hosted by the Cape Cod Hydrangea Society in partnership with Endless Summer Hydrangeas. The conference will take place at the historic Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich, Mass.

Read More
Bee on a Sedum

March 17, 2015

4 Key Pollinator Research Projects To Be Funded By Hort…

The Horticultural Research Institute will grant $125,000 in financial support for four key projects as part of the Horticultural Industry Bee & Pollinator Stewardship Initiative. The Initiative has three primary goals. First, to convene a task force to develop a bee and pollinator stewardship program, including creation of best management practices for plant production. Second, to identify and fund research that will help answer key science questions and fill gaps needed to design and refine the stewardship program. Third, to seek to positively position the horticultural community and its customers by collaborating with other compatible groups interested in augmenting pollinator habitat and protection.

Read More