Jellyfish Enable Christmas Trees to Glow Without Electricity

Written by Mike Awada on . Posted in Science, Technology

self-illuminating-christmas-tree

IC: Glowpaint.com.au

From the people who brought you glowing puppies and potatoes, comes a Christmas tree that lights up, day or night, without electricity!

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.

Genetic Engineering

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.

jellyfish-tree

IC: Stephen Messenger

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.”

The Science

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.


McSweeney’s via Treehugger

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Comments (1)

  • Ileana

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    Oh HOW BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!
    May this become standard in every garden, every park, everywhere where there are people to ENJOY this extreme beauty!!!!!!

    Reply

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