Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Will 'Glowing Plants' Replace Street Lights?

Gangadhar Panday
Actor & short filmmaker
Author runs Babul Films to spread ecological awareness
Can you recall the glowing vegetation in Avatar, an Oscar winning sci-fi movie by James Cameroon? It is high quality digital art and graphics. Films do complement the process of invention. Imagine trees as streetlamps, potted flowers that give reading light. Well, some biologists have started a project to develop glowing plants to make this a reality. These do-it-yourself experiments and also some institutional efforts use synthetic biology and genetic engineering to commercialize glowing plants, starting with ornamental ones.
While it is believed that it is still impractical to replace light bulbs, efforts to find glowing plants are in full swing. The success of the research depends on how much of the plant’s energy can be devoted to light production while still allowing the plant to grow. The plants that are being ‘tinkered’ to create living things in the garages are Arabidopsis thaliana, Tobacco and Rose.
Are these fully riskless? No. These trials of futuristic technology are controversial and there are attempts to stop this research. Environmentalists fear that this will result in uncontrolled release of bioengineered seeds and plants produced through the controversial and risky techniques of synthetic biology. They feel malicious organisms may be created, either intentionally or by accident.
But the glowing plant proponents claim they are simply synthesizing the DNA to be inserted in to plants, providing the flexibility to go beyond the genes found in nature to ease the pressure on the energy demand of our fossil fuel driven economies. They assure us that the activity would be safe.
Should these attempts be supported or protested? I leave this debate to all of you who are more technically qualified.
Rabish Chandra, member of Indian Botanists Blog-o-Journal interviewed Antony Evans, Project Manager, Glowing Plants to know about the project 'Glowing Plants' in more detail. Click Here to read the exclusive interview.


  1. Indian Botanists Blog-o-Journal is emerging as an excellent platform for scientific discussions. Thank you Mr. Gangadhar Pandey Ji for your association with the blog-o-journal and sharing your informative and interesting articles. Looking forward for your next piece of information.

  2. Interesting is that Mr Gangadhar Panday relates the scientific inventions and happenings with Films which make worth reading in an interesting mood.

  3. thanks Rahul and Anonymous. Comments always encourage the efforts.

  4. Nice information... Lighting equipment that are rapidly replacing traditional incandescent lamps are compact fluorescent lamps or lamps which are used for streets. They are very energy efficient and serve longer, thus increasing the cost benefits to users. Now street lamps have a spectral power distribution feature that is different from the incandescent lamps and provide more safety and protection.


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