Have you ever imagined reading a book at night by a luminous plant instead of an electrical lamp? Or going for a night stroll in a city lit up by trees that glow in the dark? Ongoing research by a Danish startup may prove the possibility of this sci-fi fantasy in the near future.
Allumen, a startup that is dedicated to providing sustainable forms of lighting, is manning on-going research that could pave the way for the creation of glow-in-the-dark trees. Their goal is to identify the genes that enable certain species to glow and then isolate them. The researchers will then add these genes to trees to enable them to “light up” by themselves.
If this turns out to be successful, the glow-in-the-dark trees can be the perfect alternative to electrical lighting. Why? Because they will be cheaper than the street lights we know today. These trees won’t require the use of electricity at all in order to work. Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction that takes place inside the body of certain living things and makes use of carbon dioxide (as opposed to emitting it).
Several studies show that a large portion of some cities’ energy bills accounts for street lights. It is also a major contributor to light pollution and carbon emissions. and while LED lights can reduce emissions by more than half a million a year, the bioluminescent trees can cause this number to plummet.
As beneficial as this experiment seems to be, it is not without drawbacks. Questions whether genetically engineered trees can potentially harm other plants and animals still remain to be unanswered. Seeds and pollen that travel from these modified trees can contaminate and cross-fertilize other plants, causing a new set of problems in the ecosystem.
Bioluminescent plants and trees can contribute to the worsening case of birds resetting their internal clocks. This phenomenon, raised by several environmentalists, is caused by the “loss of night” and the massive use of street lights worldwide.
What do you think about this recent scientific and environmental breakthrough? Will it be beneficial for our ecosystem or will it only cause further harm to our avian dinosaur friends? Tell us in the comment section below.