- There are over 80 species of bioluminescent mushrooms found on our planet.
- Making plants glow has been possible since the 1980s, when scientists added a gene encoding the firefly enzyme luciferase to a tobacco plant.
- 40% of Russians smoke, ranking the country in the Top 5.
Russian scientists and Planta LLC created the first glow in the dark tobacco without using any chemicals or radiation. Planta LLC, currently operating in Moscow, states it specializes in the glow in the dark plants and has been in business since 2017. The plants were grown without the use of ultraviolet rays. The cultivated tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum, was infused with four ferments from the biosynthesis of the bioluminescent fungi genes.
Bioluminescent fungi was discovered by Aristotle in 382 B.C. There are over 80 species of bioluminescent mushrooms found on our planet. Oxyluciferin is the compound found in bioluminescent mushrooms that gives the fungi their radiance.
However, new glowing tobacco is revolutionary as prior to getting the glow effect ultraviolet radiation had to be used to receive such effect, or chemical process. Making plants glow has been possible since the 1980s, when scientists added a gene encoding the firefly enzyme luciferase to a tobacco plant. When sprayed with the chemical substrate luciferin, the plant glowed for a short term period. However, adding another chemical to the tobacco could create additional cancer and disease risks.
In 2013 a San Francisco based start up created a Kickstarter campaign to develop a glow in the dark plant. The project never materialized.
MIT engineers in 2017 worked on a glow in the dark plants project on behalf of the US Department of Energy. The plants could be used as lamps without the need for electricity and the testing was done using tobacco plants. It could also have a defense application.
Thus far, no known laws in Russia or US preclude tobacco plant modification. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at the US Department of Agriculture regulates genetically modified plants, if plant pathogens are involved in the work.
The question remains, “what are the reasons for Planta LLC to create such modifications to the tobacco plant?”
According to the World Population Review, 40% of Russians smoke, ranking the country in the Top 5. So it is plausible to believe the company will be marketing glow dark tobacco as a new product, since vaping is getting a negative backlash due to the serious illnesses being reported among teens and young adults. Glow in the dark tobacco could find its market within the night life industry and party goers. It could also be attractive for certain cigar manufactures as well.
Tobacco is still harmful to health and nicotine is highly addictive. The links to cancer and other diseases from prolonged use is documented and proven.