Artwork by Dan Saunders
What is Bioglow?
Bioglow is a biotechnology company that developed the world's first autoluminescent (light producing) plants based on the work of molecular biologist Dr. Alexander Krichevsky. Dr. Krichevsky’s original work was first published in this 2010 article in PLoS One, an international peer-reviewed science journal.
What type of plant is Starlight Avatar™?
The Starlight Avatar™ variety developed by Bioglow is derived from the ornamental Nicotiana alata family of plants. The plants are not intended or suitable for consumption.
Do Bioglow plants require ultraviolet (UV) light or chemicals to be applied to them in order to produce light?
No. Bioglow’s plants are the world’s first autoluminescent plants meaning that all the components required for the light emission are produced by the plant itself without the need for UV light or any external chemical applications.
How long do autoluminescent plants glow?
Autoluminescent plants glow continuously throughout their life cycle (approximately 2-3 months), having the brightest light emitted from the plant’s younger tissues.
Can Bioglow’s light-emitting plants be used as a greener, cleaner alternative to electricity-based light?
In the future most likely yes. Years of R&D went into enhancing autoluminescent light output to its current level, but there is still much work to be done. While our current plants, the Starlight Avatar™ variety, are several times brighter than those first developed in 2010, the light emitted from Starlight Avatar™ is a soft, ambient light that is likely too dim for such uses. We plan on continuing to enhance light output of Bioglow plants with the goal of creating a cleaner, more sustainable and affordable replacement to electricity-consuming light sources.
How are autoluminescent plants made?
The phenomenon of living organisms glowing in the nature is called bioluminescence. There are over twenty independently evolved bioluminescent mechanisms found in nature including fireflies, glowworms, bobtail squids, deep-sea anglerfish and bacteria. Autoluminescent plants, or plants that produce light, are created by introducing the light-emitting pathway from marine bacteria into a plant's chloroplasts. Specific details of this process can be found in this PLoS One publication from 2010.
Are these genetically modified plants?
Yes. Autoluminescent plants are created by introducing the light-emitting pathway from marine bacteria into plant's chloroplast genome. Specific details of this process can be found in this PLoS One publication from 2010. Bioglow’s plants have been reviewed and approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
How adaptable are Starlight Avatar™ plants outdoors?
The Starlight Avatar™ variety is an ornamental plant variety that is recommended for in-house growth. Starlight Avatar™ autoluminescent plants are expected to be less adaptable than their non-autoluminescent counterparts due to metabolically taxing light emission mechanism.
Can genes from the Starlight Avatar™ plants be transferred to other plants by pollen?
No. The light-emitting pathway cannot be transferred by pollen to other plant populations.
Is bioluminescence commonly used in science?
Yes. Bioluminescent enzymes have been widely used in science for several decades for purposes of medical, biological and plant research. Hundreds of universities and research groups across the US and worldwide employ bioluminescent enzymes for various research studies and products.