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We're Not Doomed: DNA Synthesis Could Lead to Glowing Plants

Between James Franco movie deals and bras that double as fanny packs, Kickstarter has its fair share of things that never were nor should they ever be. But once in a blue moon, something truly worthwhile will make its debut among the asinine fashion accessories and deranged design projects -- case in point: glow-in-the-dark trees.

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In April, Bay Area entrepreneur Antony Evans and his team of biologists, Omri Amirav-Drory and Kyle Taylor, successfully launched and funded the Glowing Plant Project. The Kickstarter , which received 8,433 backers and $484,013, was aimed at funding a project that could revolutionize our unsustainable use of power.

Following the futuristic trend of synthetic biology and transgenic organisms, Evans and his team plan on using the funds to create a new species of night-light fauna. Using a software called Genome Compiler, the team will decode and customize the genetic sequence of bioluminescent marine bacteria known as Vibrio fischeri. They will then insert that hybrid DNA into bacteria which will in turn insert the DNA into the female gamete of plants, in this case, the tree Arabidopsis thaliana. The seeds that derive from the plant ultimately will be final products of the newly designed DNA.

Ideally, the team hopes that these glowing trees, once successfully spawned, will replace some of today's more draining lighting necessities such as street lamps. For now however, the project is still very much in the early stages of development -- synthesizing the DNA. Once that's taken care of, the project has promised a free glowing plant to large number of its initial and high-funding backers. Who has the coolest house on the block now?

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Katie Johnson
Contact: Katie Johnson