SCIENCE: The bright future of plants

In the Netherlands and in the United States, projects flourish around a common ideal: lighting streets with plants.

From Daan Roosegaarde to the Glowing Plant Project, algae, bacteria and fungi are being studied to be imitated.

Some living organisms, such as the fungus Panellus stipticus, have the ability to produce light. These small wonders of nature have inspired some engineers and designers who pursue the dream of creating vegetation that glows. Thus, for the Dutch Daan Roosegaarde, the glowing flora could be the result of genetic manipulation by mixing plants DNA with that of the Chloroplast, a bioluminescent marine bacterium.

Across the ocean, Californians from Glowing Plant Project orient their research on the ability of some insects to emit a glow like a firefly. Omri Amirav-Drory, Kyle Taylor and Antony Evans work on creating plants that produce light without releasing heat and without being a risk for the environment. Their project, published in 2013 on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, has raised nearly € 484,000. In exchange for a contribution to the realization of this invention, the donor will receive one of the first glowing plants cultivated by the three "bio-hackers".

The utopia of an urban society with the features of an enchanted forest is on the verge of becoming reality. While the first buds bloom, we are surprised to dream of a world where light only needs ground and water to shine.

Translated by Dafne Inzaina – (July 2015).