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By Danielle Stevens

Recently, a small group of biotechnology hobbyists and entrepreneurs have been working on a project that they hope will redefine the term “natural light.” This project is a start to develop plants that glow in the dark; this kind of project could eventually lead to trees replacing street lamps and possibly potted plants bright enough to cut down on electric light use.

The project, which is using a sophisticated form of genetic engineering known as synthetic biology, is grabbing a lot of attention not only for its science fiction-like goal but also for the way it is being carried out. This is because rather than the project being done by a large corporation or academic laboratory, it’s being done by a small group of hobbyist scientists. These people are working in one of the many communal laboratories that are popping up around the country as biotechnology is becoming cheap enough to give many scientists a “do-it-yourself” attitude.

Financing for the project is also being done in a more D.I.Y way by using a website known as Kickstarter. In about two weeks the project received more than $250,000 in pledges from nearly 4,500 donors.

Scientists have been trying to make things glow for a while now, and using bioluminescence, a few have even succeeded. Scientists have succeeded in making tobacco plants, monkeys, cats, pigs, worms and even dogs glow in the dark. With all of these successes, making plants and tress glow seems pretty easy; though it really might not be.

Attempting to make these plants glow bright enough to replace some forms of electrical lights is the hard part, but it’s smart; especially having trees to replace street lamps. Having glowing trees to replace street lamps would help cut costs being spent on light bulbs and replacing street lamps if something knocks them down.

I fully believe that replacing some forms of lights with plants will not only save money but it will also help the environment, thus making glowing plants a good idea in my book. We’re always trying to find better ways to make everything more natural, well this is just about as natural as it gets. Having potted plants glow bright enough to read by could help people save on electric bills by cutting the amount of electricity used during the night. And glowing trees would be much more useful to drivers at night than spaced out street lamps are. Having plants glow would also help during black out situations in homes and towns and on streets. Instead of worrying about batteries for flashlights or lighting candles to keep houses light.

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