Like a jar of fireflies, Bioglow's light-producing plant glows softly, only this kind of "mood lighting" uses no chemicals or electricity.

The plants were invented by molecular biologist Dr. Alex Krichevsky, whose research has focused on bioluminescent marine bacteria and the molecular biology of plants — the perfect combination to create the "world's first light-producing plants."

The autonomously luminescent plants have been genetically modified by "introducing the light-emitting pathway from marine bacteria into plant's chloroplast genome," the St. Louis-based company's website reads. The plants are able to produce light on their own, without the use of UV light or chemical additives.

Though they can hardly light a room, the plants' luminous abilities have continued to evolve, and so far, one USDA-approved product is on the market. Named "Starlight Avatar," the plant is a variety of Nicotiana alata, and it can glow indoors for up to three months.

Bioglow plants in light and dark

Photo courtesy of Bioglow

Ultimately, Bioglow's goal is to offer a sustainable alternative to traditional, electricity-consuming light sources.

"For instance, glowing perennial plants, such as hostas, can be used in marking the sides of driveways and highways, reducing the need for electrical lighting and thus use of fossil fuels," Krichevsky said. "Another example can be backup lighting systems and increasing safety, for instance glowing lawn for airports, as well as in leisure industry in resorts and golf courses. We hope that our efforts will enhance the quality of human life and make the world a little brighter."

Krichevsky's research on the autonomously luminescent plants has been published in the science journal PLoS One.

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