Type IIS
Modules tested
Team Members

Project Description

Previous attempts at achieving glowing plants suffered from low glow output and difficulties in gene insertion our goal is to address some of these issues to bring glowing plants one step closer so to light up the world with nature, by creating constant and bright bioluminescence in plants.

One of the core principles of helping to reduce the impact of climate change and to be more environmentally aware is to lower the energy demands of day-to-day life. Lighting infrastructure is a massive energy consumer in towns and cities, and the sources of this electricity are not always environmentally friendly, as they have their origin in coal-fired or atomic power plants. Equally as important is the amount of energy and materials, some of which are toxic heavy metals, for example mercury, used in the production and upkeep of street lamps. The installment of street lights requires the coverage of many kilometers with underground cables, taking up space and materials. Moreover thinking about the environment, it is important to consider the effects new implementations might have on the ecological system. Thus we would aim to create sterile bioluminescence plants, which can be placed controllably where they are demanded, without the fear of unwanted spreading. Specific examples of placements where energy could be saved, are tree nurseries, theme parks, industrial facilities and many more. First, we want to manipulate the Lux operon to increase its brightness and pH-optimum to be closer to the pH-level in plants. In order to achieve this we plan on doing Error-prone PCR on the eLuxAB and ieLuxAB gene. The insert will be then tested by inserting it into Agrobacterium tumefaciens, which we are going to inject the plant with. The photoactivity will be then measured. We also want to incorporate a Riboswitch into the system to ensure the light will only be emitted in the dark. We plan on using a Riboswitch in combination with the light-activated PAL protein followed by GFP. This insert will also be put into Agrobacterium tumefaciens to inject the plant with it. The activity of GFP will be then measured in light and dark environments to see if the Riboswitch/PAL regulation system is working.

Project Inspiration

The availability of light has dominated how humans interact with the world since our first small villages and towns arose. Our lives are intrinsically linked to it and we in the developed world take for granted our ability to produce light at the flick of a switch.

However, this easy access to light has come at a cost, in Germany 254 petajoules of energy was consumed to the production of light [1] and in the United States about 8% of the commercial and residential sectors combined energy consumption goes towards the production of light (US-Stat). This is a vast amount of electricity and its production both in the US, EU and in most other developed nation is heavily reliant on the burning of fossil fuels contributing to the emergency of climate change. Conversely, there are places in this world in which light is precious and the thought of having light at the flick of the switch is still a distant one. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa 600 million people remain without electricity and as such light [2]. This lack of access hampers or even prevents the escape from poverty, as shops must close early and children must study under flame light, a difficult and dangerous thing to do. In order to address both of these problems a new way of light generation is required one that is not linked to the generation of electricity and that can perform in an isolated system. In a sustainable environmental-friendly way we will reduce the electricity consumption used for electric light.


[1] - “Energieverbrauch Für Die Beleuchtung in Deutschland Bis 2017.” Statista, [2] - “Energy Consumption in Households.” Energy Consumption in Households - Statistics Explained,


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