Show your friends you care about sustainability and help inspire others about the potential of synthetic biology to make the world a better place.
By buying this plant you are supporting open science. All DNA, designs and seeds are open source, meaning you are free to edit them, grow them, sell them or give to your friends as you want.
Funded On Kickstarter
Thanks to your help, 8,433 people reserved their Glowing Plant seeds by backing the project with $484,013
We live in an unsustainable world, using resources faster than we can replenish them and pushing the earth beyond it's fragile limits. Nature shows us a better way, as biology is sustainable, so we can harness genetic engineering to create better solutions. The glowing plant inspires hope in a more sustainable future and educates people about this wonderful and mis-understood technology.
History of Glowing Plants
Luminosity has a long and storied history in biology, in fact it's even been the subject of a Nobel Prize. Bioluminescence is used as a core tool of molecular biology as it allows scientists to understand the inner workings of the cell. The first bioluminescent plant was made in 1986, with the addition of firefly luciferine. The plant was very dim, requiring 8 hours of exposure on photographic film. It also required the addition of luciferin to glow as researchers added just a single gene for the luciferase.
More recently researchers at SUNY added the full glowing construct to a gene resulting in the first auto-luminescent plant. This plant had the bacterial lux operon inserted into the chloroplasts (which are like mini-bacteria) and dimly glowed without the addition of any external reagents. The importance of luminosity has resulted in lots of research into and improvement of bioluminescent systems. One notable project is the University of Cambridge 2010 iGem team who created eGlowli bacteria which were bright enough to read with. The Cambridge team wondered what future uses their genes could have - maybe one day we could use trees to light out streets at night?
We were inspired by all this research, and wondered what would happen if we took these developments and combined them. How bright would synthetic genes make a plant glow?
How We Make The Glowing Plant
We make our plant using the tools of synthetic biology, using a design print transform cycle. We design our DNA sequences on a computer using special Biocad software, then we make the DNA using DNA laser printing before using a Gene Gun to insert the DNA into our plant. The more we iterate through the cycle, the brighter the plant will be. Every pre-order helps us increase the number of iterations we can do.
Progress to date
We are in the final phase of getting the plant ready for shipping. We've completed the prototype phase making a plant which glows (as you can see in the images). We've built the set of tools we need to improve the luminosity of the plant and now we are in the final phase applying those tools to make the plant we will ship to backers.
Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Fellow at Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering
“It is paradoxical that we don’t yet have this...Biology is very energy efficient and energy packets are more dense than batteries. Even a weakly glowing flower would be a great icon.”
Autodesk Distinguished Research fellow, Bioinformatics and Biotechnology faculty at Singularity University
"I like this project a lot. I want it to succeed and raise the funds and get people interested in synthetic biology"
Blogger, journalist, and science fiction author, Co-editor of the weblog Boing Boing
"The project's lead looks like he has the necessary experience"
Founder of Cambrian Genomics
"DNA laser printing will change life as we know it, starting with glowing plants"
Founder of X PRIZE and Singularity University, Author of best selling book 'Abundance'
"The COOLEST Kickstarter campaign ever!"