If it seems bizarre and otherworldly it is, but by this time next year, you could have a spliced tree in your living room, giving off a healthy green and red glow.
Researchers in the UK believe that by infusing genes from fluorescent jellyfish and fireflies into a Douglas spruce, they can make it light up, day or night. The idea is actually over a decade old, stemming from the work of five postgraduate students at the University of Hertfordshire, as an entry in a biotechnology competition.
For years genetic engineers have injected fluorescent genes into organisms as the measuring stick of a successful gene injection. With this glowing confirmation, they’d be able to continue experimenting by introducing various other types of genes.
The UK team used this very same technique to dream up the self-illuminating Christmas tree.
“It is quite feasible. The only problem in reality is the cost,” says team member Katy Presland. That cost would initially be between $300-400 per tree. “We’re talking about a green luminescent Christmas tree that glows in the dark and produces a noticeable light during the day.”
To achieve the desired effect, the trees’ seedlings would be infected with a harmless bacterium that carried the colorful genes. The first gene is a fluorescent protein, and the second is a chemical compound that produces an enzyme. They work hand in hand to create the desired glowing effect. This technique has been demonstrated in a number of different organisms, and can currently generate vibrant glows in blue, red and green.
Commerical production of such a tree does not yet exist, and there’s no guarantee that it ever will. If the word gets out and demand becomes stirred though, hybrid jellyfish trees may soon become a welcome part of our Christmas traditions.
Trackback from your site.