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Mushrooms give plants the green light to glow

Plants have never quite cracked the evolutionary riddle that allows insects, fish, and fungi to glow. But researchers have now found a way to make tobacco plants radiate green light (pictured), thanks to a few genes from a bioluminescent mushroom, according to a study published this week in Nature Biotechnology. Fungi glow because of a natural reaction between enzymes and chemicals called luciferins, including a type called caffeic acid that is found in all plants. Introducing four key fungal genes into the plants’ DNA caused them to glow 10 times more brightly than those engineered using bacteria, The Guardian reports. Although we could one day walk along streets lit by glowing treelight, scientists also look forward to the ability to study plants in minute detail by lighting them up from the inside.

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