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

Latest Stories
Next Generation

August 27, 2016

Australia Launches Initiative To Ignite A New Generatio…

Hort Innovation Chief Executive John Lloyd says the goal is to identify and build future industry leaders at all stages of their career through investment in a host of new initiatives.

Read More
Penn State University Trial Day

August 26, 2016

How Greenhouse Growers Can Broaden Their Horizons

Allan Armitage says you can learn new ideas to help your business when you get out to visit plant trials and other growers.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

August 25, 2016

7 Ways Albert Grimm Strives To Be An Effective Leader

Grimm, Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, tries to live by the "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People” from author Stephen R. Covey.

Read More
Tidal Creek Growers

August 25, 2016

Maryland-Based SunMed Growers Nabs Cannabis License

The company was one of 15 licensees selected by the commission out of a pool of 145 grower applicants to receive one of the license pre-approvals.

Read More
GrowSpan Light Deprivation Greenhouse

August 25, 2016

New Light Deprivation Greenhouses Help With Light Manag…

The GrowSpan light deprivation greenhouse from Growers Supply is outfitted with a blackout system that provides growers with control over the light cycle.

Read More
Albert Grimm GOY feature

August 25, 2016

Up Close And Personal With Head Grower Of The Year Albe…

According to Grimm, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Head Grower Of The Year, the key to being a successful grower is educating and inspiring yourself, your staff, your customers, and the next generation of growers.

Read More
To offer consumers an attractive crop, Local Appetite uses high tunnels to grow cherry tomatoes

August 24, 2016

New Food Safety Compliance Resource Available For Green…

The FSMA Wizard from Registrar Corp makes it easy for food producers, including greenhouse vegetable growers, to determine their possible requirements under the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Read More
Cannabis Structure

August 23, 2016

5 Factors To Consider In Your Cannabis Structure

Along with the size and specs of your greenhouse, it's also important to focus on ventilation, light deprivation, benching, irrigation, and odor control.

Read More
Penn State Plant Bud

August 23, 2016

AmericanHort Is Helping Plant Importers Adjust To New R…

A report from Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort says the government is implementing a streamlined system for imports, in which all required data will be submitted electronically through a single window.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Kick Spring Sales Up A Notch With 18 New Plant Introduc…

It’s time to look forward to the spring season and what plants will get your business off to the right start. These 18 new cultivars have all the traits of good breeding — uniform habits, bold colors, showy blooms, good vigor, and excellent branching.

Read More
Bees And Pesticides

August 23, 2016

Studies Offer Conflicting Views On Neonic Effect On Bee…

How much exposure to neonicotinoids do bees need before their health becomes affected? That’s the question two research teams look to answer.

Read More

August 23, 2016

Gardens Alive! Parent Company Buys Zelenka Farms

  Zelenka Farms, which has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, says LM Farms, which owns Gardens Alive!, has purchased the company and all of its assets. BFN Operations LLC and its affiliated entities, d/b/a Zelenka Farms, operated one of the largest wholesale nurseries in the U.S. Its products include shrubs, trees, perennials, roses, and groundcovers. The owners of Gardens Alive! have successfully purchased several other companies from bankruptcy and are experienced nursery managers. Niles Kinerk, Chairman of LM Farms, stated that “the opportunity to purchase Zelenka Farms assets and to continue the turnaround that is well underway is exactly the kind of opportunity that we look for. We understand the efforts of the management team led by Eric Ek and others have been successful, and we will support the management team in the coming months and years.” Zelenka Farms operates its six facilities across the key growing regions in the […]

Read More
Chrysanthemum Aphid

August 22, 2016

How To ID And Manage Black Aphids In Chrysanthemums

Growers in Michigan have recently been reporting a higher presence of this pest. Here are some tips on how to control it.

Read More
LuxFlora - feature

August 22, 2016

Check Out Luxflora’s International Adventures In Europe

A new, women-led professional organization provides its members the opportunity to gain insight, develop ideas, and build connections on its annual international trip.

Read More
Cannabis Crop Protection

August 22, 2016

Cannabis Group Stays Focused On Consistent Standards Fo…

The Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards (FOCUS), is an independent, third-party, not-for-profit organization, is in the process of developing cannabis-specific standards for everything from cultivation and extraction to packaging and retail.

Read More

August 22, 2016

Syngenta

Growers have new broad-spectrum fungicide options with new Segovis and Mural, as well as a new systemic insecticide with Mainspring GNL.

Read More

August 22, 2016

PL Light Systems

With the introduction of PL Light System’s new HortiLED light systems, growers no longer have to choose between quality and energy savings. Three different systems, designed for both standard and multilayer application, deliver exceptional uniformity and efficiency.

Read More

August 22, 2016

Emerald Coast Growers

Emerald Coast Growers has answers to the top trends in gardening with Chick Charms Sempervivums, two beautiful and sterile Miscanthus varieties, and the pollinator-friendly Bee You Monarda series.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]