Created bioluminescent plants that are able to replace lamps and even the lights

Techno 15 December, 2017

2017-12-15 19:50

Created bioluminescent plants that are able to replace lamps and even the lights
In addition to the comfort in the home they care about the future of energy.

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To read before going to sleep with the light on the plants? Why not. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) have taken the first step to creating a continuously glowing plant. In addition to the comfort in the home they care about the future of energy.

Actually this is not the first swetlowodnaya plant created by scientists. The specialists with the help of gene splicing bolumlerini bacteria have already created a “plant light”. In principle, glow in the dark can make anything from Christmas trees to ice cream. But the question is how to do it.

All previous work assumed the transfer of genes responsible for the production of light-emitting biological pigment luciferin (from the name Lucifer, meaning “light-bearer”). But this process is quite time-consuming, and the light emitted by plants after genetic modification, it turns out very dull.

The researchers decided to try a different route and appealed for help to the fireflies. Their luminescence provides a luciferase – oxidative enzyme that acts on luciferin molecules and causes them to emit light. This process involves other molecules, the coenzyme from a class of coenzyme A. Their goal is the removal of byproducts of the reaction, which inhibit the luciferase activity.

Each of these three components (luciferase, luciferin and coenzyme A), the MIT team packaged in nanoparticles. Latter allows each component to get into the “right” part of the plant, and prevent the accumulation of components in concentrations that are toxic to plants.

Nanoparticles that carry luciferase consist of silicon and the diameter reach ten nanometers. And those who tolerate coenzyme a and luciferin, the size is a little bigger and is made of chitosan and polylactide (PLGA).

Before posting nanoparticles in plants, they are suspended in the solution (creating in it a suspension with specific properties). Then they run into the leaves through pores called stomata.

According to the authors, nanoparticles that release luciferin and coenzyme a, should accumulate in the extracellular space of the mesophyll (this is the main tissue of leaf blade). But silicon particles carrying luciferase, have to get themselves in mesophyll cells. Then the following happens: nanoparticles release the luciferin, it behaves in cells of a plant leaf, is found with the luciferase, and begins the chemical reaction of the glow.

At the initial stage of the project, the researchers were able to achieve 45-minute glow watercress. But after improving and learning all the nuances of plants can glow in three and a half hours. While the light emitted from the ten seedlings, is only a thousandth part of lighting that is necessary for reading. However, the authors believe that the brightness can be significantly increased. For this they need to optimize the concentrations of all components and to adjust the speed of their release.

As scholars have noted, this method can be used with any plants without any genetic modification. While they are working, except watercress, arugula, cabbage and spinach.

The main objective is to create a plant that can function as a table lamp that requires no electricity. Using this technology in the future it will be possible to turn entire trees into a “natural” lights (by the way, the luminous stones for illuminating night roads of great Britain).

This area of research is extremely promising and relevant, the experts said. Today 20% of global energy consumption is used for lighting. The use of plants for these purposes will help you save a lot of money and improve the environment.

“Plants can regenerate itself, they use their own energy and are already adapted to the environment. We think that it is their time. It is the perfect solution for nanobionic,” adds lead author of the study Professor Michael Strano (Michael Strano).

Specialists of the laboratory are studying the possibility of introducing into plants of various nanoparticles to perform a variety of functions. Eventually, the plants can replace many electrical devices, scientists believe. For example, they are developing systems to detect explosives, as well as plants that can monitor environmental conditions and “inform” about the approaching drought.