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Glow-in-the-dark Christmas Trees

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the singing-around-the-phosphorescent-tree dept.

Christmas Cheer 185

lawrence writes "The BBC is carrying this story about five post-grad students at the University of Hertfordshire who are planning on creating a glow-in-the-dark christmas tree. They would do this by adding the genes that cause glowing in fireflies and jellyfish, making the pine-needles glow all the time. They expect the cost of the trees to be about £200 ($330) Future possibilities involve coral genes that would make it multicolored. " I think my favorite part about this story is the comment about Americans being a likely market. *grin*

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185 comments

Re:Hell Yes... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588535)

Jealousy??

I'll take some of the silliness of our consumer culture which is due to our greater freedom and greater respect for individual rights over the earnest seriousness and self-righteous sanctimoniousness of other, more socialist countries who feel, perhaps, that there ought to be a law against these kinds of things

Karma Protect mode

Re:Of course Americans want this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588536)

just because youre fat doesnt mean everyone else is. canadians are much worse.

Glowing animals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588537)

So they can make glowing animals, too? I'd like a bunch of glowing cows, so I can eat in the dark.

I can just see it... (2)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588548)

"What did you get for Christmas?"

"A tan and skin cancer. You?"
"Knowledge = Power = Energy = Mass"

Americans (2)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588549)

"I think my favorite part about this story is the comment about Americans being a likely market. *grin*"

Well, I'm still waiting for glow in the dark, multicolored lawn flamingos...

Next they should... (1)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588550)

Find a gene that will keep the needles from
falling off.

Re:Trade wars (1)

ralphclark (11346) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588551)

Siberian hackers are suspected to have sown large amounts of modified conifer seed in a complicated arrangement forming graphics and letters, appearantly hoping to render a functioning encryption program visible on regular satellite photos from the area, thus making it globally available without violating national export legislation.

Nah, it wasn't conifers, it was "perl" barley.

Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
Thought exists only as an abstraction

Not all trees go in one's living room (1)

/ (33804) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588552)

Lots of xmas trees are ones that're just standing around outside one's home and get strung with lights. Just plant one of these instead, and it'll glow for free. And don't think that people won't do it just because these things would glow all year round. People have enough trouble getting their lights down by valentine's day -- they want the lights up all the time, and this is the perfect excuse for doing so.

Re:A better idea. (1)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588553)

That will version 2 next for Christmas.

Re:What's green and wooly and glows in the dark? (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588554)

Hey, at least they'd be easier to find, should they ever get loose. :)

And it'd justify some mighty strange "Dumbo" parodies...

There's so much *more* they could do! (3)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588555)

The glow? Feh. They've got jellyfish genes, so it'd be REALLY cool to give 'em tentacles. Right.

A glowing Christmas tree with stinging tentacles -- what better way to frighten the neighbor's dog?

{g}

Even more tinkering to follow... (1)

InfoVore (98438) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588556)

The next obvious modification is to edit in genes from Bing Crosby and Jerry Seinfeld so that your glow-in-the-dark tree serenade's your guests and loved ones with:

"Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg..."


IV

Re:Of course Americans want this... (1)

.pentai. (37595) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588557)

Uh, hi, ya, I AM an American.
I go to work everyday, paying my taxes, and would gladly die for all this country was founded on.

This was meant to be funny to people with a sick and twisted off beat sense of humor (like myself and many of my friends).

But if you want reality, all I said was true.

American's are lazy - don't believe me, look at highschools, how many people do their own work?

American's are braggarts - don't believe me, just hang around a mall sometime and watch everyone talk about how they have something better.

And as for not wanting to learn new things, why do you think linux hasn't taken off...people would rather stick with windows because they know it.

I've proven all my points, though I was hoping I wouldn't have to.

Hell Yes... (1)

Rabbins (70965) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588560)

Of course Americans would love this kind of crap!

Welcome to the land where being King of the Suburbs is almost as important as highschool football!

You would be the talk of the neighborhood with one of those trees.

Of course Americans want this... (0)

.pentai. (37595) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588561)

Think about it...

It glows so you don't have to setup lights - Americans are lazy.

It's unusual - Americans like bragging.

And of course the BIGGEST reason:
The gene is calls GFP, very closely resembling the GPF, something most Americans are already familiar with - Americans don't want to learn new things.

Luciferin in the fertilizer? Yikes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588564)

I don't know about putting luciferin in the fertilizer water. At ~$8000/gram, that'd be a mighty expensive tree. Just get the green fluorescent protein version (forget the luciferase) and hang a black light over it. Fluorescence galore!

so when do they make a Rudolph? (2)

lee (17524) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588566)

If they can make mice glow, can reindeer be far behind?

Trees (3)

Negadecimal (78403) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588568)

I think there's more potential elsewhere. Glow-in-the-dark Christmas trees are simply too weird. What sort of lights/ornaments to you put on a glowing tree with? Do you rewrite your Christmas songs ("O' Glowing Tree...")? They're probably ugly as hell, though.

I'd like to see glow-in-the-dark shrubs along your driveway (so you can see at night). Glow-in-the-dark ivy would be interesting on building exteriors.

And why limit your gene splicing to plants? How fun would it be to have a glow-in-the-dark dog?

Anybody know if the chemicals responsible for phospholumenescence are toxic? If they're not, you can do really neat stuff. Glow-in-the-dark fruit could be the basis for easy-to-find midnight snacks and exotic resturaunt entrees. Better yet, glow-in-the-dark algae, making for glowing beverages.

now if they'd only grow their own ornaments (3)

tuffy (10202) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588570)

and maybe a star on top and we'd be all set. Still, this sounds like the stuff bad horror movies are made of. Imagine if they'd develop intelligence and start devouring people. On the other hand, a grove of carniverous christmas trees just doesn't have a big scare factor.

I'm all for it (1)

/ (33804) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588572)

Think of how much fossil fuel such a thing would save if it glowed on its own instead of having to be plugged into the local power plant. There's too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as it is, and here we have a glowing xmas tree that, being a tree, actually deducts from the aggregate atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Of course it'll be ugly as hell, but we're used to that here in the states. Since when has xmas ever been about demonstrating good taste in America?

other possible applications... (1)

option8 (16509) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588573)

while i doubt i'd be a buyer of a glowing christmas tree (i _am_ american, but i don't spend $350 on something i'll only use for about a month, besides, i'm an atheist) i like to think this sort of thing would catch on in other areas as well.

think of it. tree-lined walkways that are perpetually lit without need for electric lights. glowing grass-bordered landing strips that are visible in power outages. whole glowing forests and jungles filled with insomniac monkeys!

now, if they could only figure out how to have plants glow without need for luciferase (which sounds like nothing more to me than satan's protein) in the soil...

Glowing bacteria (1)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588576)

the glowing of fireflies is the result of a chemical reaction in and special organ of the firefly, the firefly can somehow controll this.
how can this apply to a tree. trees arent animals and I IMHO can't see that combining animal and vegetable genes has any result.
if this however is possible, would it also be possible to add the genes for growing arms and legs to a tree and growing arms and legs for transplantation in that way.
I am now an expert on genetics but is seems impossible to me to combine animal and vegetable genes. IMHO the differ too much.


---

And for the overprotective parent (2)

ricOS/2 (23121) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588577)

Glow in the dark children, so you know when they're sneaking around. Playing hide and go seek in elementary school would suck, though... "What's that light in the tunnel?! It's Bobby!! You're it!"

Glow in the Dark people (1)

Bob McCown (8411) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588578)


Imaging the next time you have to give a urine sample....scare the #*&$# out of the nurse...

Re:That's not what they're doing (2)

forii (49445) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588579)

Actually, that is what they are doing.

Luciferase is an enzyme that reacts with a chemical called Luciferin to create light. The trees will have the genes to create the luciferase enzyme, but will still need a source of luciferin. The plan is to put luciferin in the water, and when a christmas tree sucks up the water into the leaves (Which it will still do after it has been cut), you can get the reaction.

Re:Luciferase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588580)

Well, in a way that's true. See, Lucifer was the Roman name for the morning star (aka the planet Venus). (How this got connected to Satan is a long story and not worth going into here.) Lucifer = Light(luci) + Bringer(fer). It should be fairly obvious why the chemical that brings out the light would be given the same name :) On a personal note, I know Satan, and he denies any connection to this, as does Microsoft.

Re:A Good use of Resources (1)

kcarnold (99900) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588581)

Remember, you can't get something for nothing. The energy for the light has to come from somewhere... if it's not the wall outlet, then it's the fertilizer. And which is more expensive? Granted, the tree-glows are much more efficient than the lights (heat factor), but still...

> The sad part is that these will probably be popular. I suppose that they will help prevent candle-causing house fires, and save on electricity. But Geeze!

Since when did house fires make candles? I'm going to find some burned-down house and collect all the candles! (I think he meant candle-caused.)

Kenneth Arnold

PS - Add one advantage: Save hours that could better be spent with the family (optional) or r e adi n g Slashdot!

Nuclear Christmas (2)

ralphclark (11346) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588582)

I think my favorite part about this story is the comment about Americans being a likely market
Not to mention the Japanese, they love tacky stuff like that.
Mind you...they probably have enough glowing vegetation as it is.
This is all wrong though.Why resort to such unnatural methods when we could just dispense with the trees and hang luminous jellyfish around the house at Christmas instead.

Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
Thought exists only as an abstraction

Re:What's green and wooly and glows in the dark? (1)

Russ Steffen (263) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588583)

What we need really need is the translucent iMammoth, available in 5 "flavors".

old story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588584)

This sounds familiar to me, didn't we have a similiar story last year just before Xmas?

glow in the dark stuff = fun (1)

HarveyNeon (106183) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588585)

glow in the dark trees = cheese.
at the local 7-11 up here in canada they are selling glow in the dark slurpee cups with glow in the dark lids, and it reminded me that when i was little, 7-11 had glow in the dark straws for a while.
the straws were great, we used to charge them up under a lamp, then close out all light from the ~20 foot hallway in the basement, and chuck the glowing staws at each other. a couple teams of ski-goggle-and-jacket-clad kids. what a blast!

but the tree idea thing just sounds lame.

Re:I'm all for it (1)

tzanger (1575) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588586)

Think of how much fossil fuel such a thing would save if it glowed on its own instead of having to be plugged into the local power plant. There's too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as it is, and here we have a glowing xmas tree that, being a tree, actually deducts from the aggregate atmospheric carbon dioxide.

From my bio classes, this is false... sure, they take in carbon dioxide during the day, but at night they produce it just like anything else...

... this was OAC BIO so it could be leaving out big huge gaps but it seems ot make sense to me...

Mum! Uncle Stan's Puked On The Christmas Tree! (1)

Sinner (3398) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588597)

(Again)

Yes, I know I did this joke last year. I laughed so hard I had to do it again.

But... (1)

ReadbackMonkey (92198) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588598)

Would they continue to glow in the dark after the tree died?

Re:Of course Americans want this... (1)

tzanger (1575) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588599)

Canadians are fatter (by population) than Americans? I really doubt it.. We have snow to shovel!

Re:Of course Americans want this... (1)

tzanger (1575) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588600)

Canadians are fatter (by population) than Americans? I really doubt it.. We have snow to shovel!

neat idea (1)

Evil Poot Cat (69870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588601)

If the proteins produce light in the right wavelengths, plants utilizing the protein can absorb the light and use it for photosynthesis. That would reduce the risk of death by underlit conditions, and could increase the growth/yield of the plant.

This is the part where the pulp/paper industry utilizes the tech to accelerate tree growth, if they can separate the protein(s) in the pulp process.

I can't do the calculations in my head, but.... (1)

Denor (89982) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588602)

This kind of thing does seem neat, if a bit over the top. I'm wondering: At what point is it cheaper to buy a tree that glows on its own, than to buy a regular tree and normal lights? I don't know offhand how much it costs to light a normal strand of decorations, but I imagine there's a positive tradeoff somewhere. Add to that the benefits of not having to listen to any of those ornaments which play 'Jingle Bells' and won't stop and you have a sure thing!

Re:Genetically manipulated plants are a baaad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588603)

As long as yer fiddlin' with the genes, why not make them sterile?

Re:I'm all for it (2)

PD (9577) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588604)

Actually, the substance of plants is partially composed of carbons from the air. If you pour H2SO4 (sulphuric acid) over some sucrose, the mess will smoke and stink, and when the reaction is done, all that will be left is a bunch of carbon. Through radioactive tracers it has been proven that the carbon that winds up in the sugar originally was floating around in the form of CO2.

I'm guessing that other parts of plants are the same way, so the carbon in wood and leaves was originally part of atmospheric CO2. This carbon doesn't return to the atmosphere at least until the wood is burned or rotted by methane and CO2 producing bacteria. Forests are good carbon sinks, until the rate of growth of new forest is balanced by the rate of decay of dead leaves and wood, and then the forest is saturated with carbon. It can't hold any more.


Re:Of course Americans want this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588605)

come, come, we are all like brothers here in N. America, lets' be more mature than to indulge in a bunch of name-calling. besides, have you seen those freakin' fat-ass Germans?!? Wow!!

Re:neat idea (1)

mystik (38627) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588606)

This is nearly impossible- due to the laws of conservation of energy. A lot of energy would be lost in just making the light, and cannot be recovered to produce more energy. You're describing a perpetual energy machine- which would be cool, but unfortunatly very impossible.

Re:Luciferin in the fertilizer? Yikes! (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588617)

Psst..Buddy, want some luciferin-producing marigolds to plant under your trees? Only $200, but they'll keep the trees lit all summer...

Re:Genetically manipulated plants are a baaad idea (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588618)

I guess I'd better halt the experiments on the glowing cold-tolerant Kudzu I've been working on, then. Damn!

Wierd Trivia (1)

Nyarly (104096) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588619)

It seems to me I recall seeing an article in print about an herbicide that reversed photosynthesis, so that weeds literally glowed to death. Seems to me there were the typical herbicide problems of selectivity, but what if you used it as a tree additive? Seems to me you could get a nice soft glow much more cheaply than $330.

On the other hand, the tree might die too quickly. Why does the Xmas tree tradition suddenly seem cruel?

Re:neat idea - not (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588620)

Um nice but no.

What you are describing is perpetual motion - using the energy put out by a system (in this case photons from the tree) fed back into the system to power it. You *cannot* make this worthwhile - The laws of thermodymanics say that you can't win, and you can't break even. Anyone who says otherwise is a crank.

In the best case your enegry efficiency is near 100% - ie you collect most of the energy that you sent out, and don't gain anything, only lose a little.

In the real world, energy effiency is likely to be very low, i.e.
1) Energy lost while powering the luciferin/luciferase reaction
2) Only a fraction of the emited light will hit the tree's leaves.
3) Photosynthesis in those leaves will be inefficient.

Therefor there is no way that the tree doing this this would increase the yield of the plant - quite the oposite.

Re:oh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588621)

i think thats the scariest thing i've read for a long time.
ever had pine sap on you?? that stuff is like mother natures answer to superglue. i'm gonna go cry.

damn, i soiled myself.

Variations (2)

kcarnold (99900) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588622)

I know someone is going to bring this up (maybe someone already has while I was writing this), but there are an almost endless stream of modifications that can be made to this idea:

  • Color. (This has already been said, I know.)
  • Multi-color! Now there we go! Each needle a different random color, but some limitation on the availible colors so we only get normal-looking shades.
  • Blinking! On-off-on-off-on-off-etc-etc-etc. Of course it's biological, so it would probably be more like on-on-on-off-on-off-off-on.
  • But wait a second! That looks a lot like binary! Let's have a computer in our Christmas tree! And make it run Linux! Now, what can we make it do? (blank stare)
  • Okay, better computer idea: Make your computer control your Christmas tree. "I'm tired of green. Let's do purple. Now what RGB was that?"
  • Tunes built right into your tree! Special gene progams tree cells to synchronously play songs! Sings Jingle Bells, O Christmas Tree, and all your other Christmas favorites! All through the night, and over and over again! "I'M GONNA KILL THAT TREE!!!"


I'm sure I've missed a few wacky variations, so feel free to reply to this insert descriptive word here post!

Have a Merry Christmas with your light-up tree! Yeah, I know this is exactly two months early :-).


Kenneth Arnold

Where's the HTML tag that makes my post not stupid?

arrrggg...not possible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588623)

It is thermodynamically impossible. against the second law, no perpetual machine!!!!

Re:American's will go for this? I think (1)

Nyarly (104096) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588624)

These are the same people who FROST their trees. They aren't thinking about eating them, or even thinking of them as alive, really.

Which actually makes these trees the perfect start for more intensive genetic manipulation. A sorry state where in order to gain acceptance, a branch of research has to stoop to frivolous applications. But if Americans (and, unfortunately, therefore the world) are going to accept recombindant DNA technologies, it will be in safe niches that they do. Meaning plants they don't eat. Animals are too 'alive'- a glow in the dark dog would be "wrong" in too many eyes, I think. And genetically engineered food has been too big an issue for too long. I'm all for glowing plants though. Or color patterns. Company logos. Whatever. Anything to get it into the public eye in an unthreatening way.

Blair Witch Project (1)

thegrommit (13025) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588625)

Can you imagine if they tried to film the Blair Witch Project in a forest of glowing trees.....

Re:Genetically manipulated plants are a baaad idea (1)

Fastolfe (1470) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588626)

While your concerns are certainly warranted, new strains of plant life don't just go spreading uncontrollably unless they have some sort of evolutionary advantage over their "normal" siblings. I can't think of any reason why a bioluminescence would increase a tree's chance at reproduction, but I suppose the engineering could have some unexpected side-effects as you indicate.

Plus, as another poster mentioned, it would probably be pretty easy to engineer them sterile.

Re:Trees (1)

mal3 (59208) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588627)

I'd like to see glow-in-the-dark shrubs along your driveway (so you can see at night).


At least you'd know if anyone was hiding in the bushes.

LUCIFERin in CHRISTMAS trees. Satan is tempting us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588629)

This is Satan's latest trick to temp us into embracing the dark side. Beware His subtle attempts at control.

Re:Even more tinkering to follow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588644)

Anyone remember The Three Amigos?

"Hello, are you the singing bush?"

"She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes, she'll be coming round the mountian when she comes..."

"HELLO, ARE YOU THE SINGING BUSH?"

"...she'll be riding six white horses when she comes..."

"Forget it Dusty, my guess is that this IS the singing bush"

Christmas Tree (1)

caldroun (52920) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588645)

You know, I think it is a bit silly for a tree that glows... Someone actually spent time on this.... But think of this...you would be able to see the landfills from space with all the glowing trees that were thrown away. Not to mention about the people that through them in ponds and lakes to create a place for fishing.. Crazy.

This is weirder than it might sound.... (4)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588646)

Since I know a little bit about the subject, this article strikes me as both an obvious idea and a peculiar (impossible) approach to implementing it.

Luciferase is a firefly gene that catalyzes the breakdown of the chemical luciferin, emitting light in the process. (Yellow light.) Fireflies "blink" by controlling the access of luciferase to luciferin. A plant isn't going to blink since it doesn't have the appropriate control machinery (e.g. no neurons to send a signal saying "turn on now"). But a plant could always simply glow steadily. Unfortunately, plants don't make luciferin, and normal luciferase doesn't catalyze anything in a normal non-firefly-light-organ cell. I presume that the postdocs have figured out a way to get around this.

Even stranger is the idea to use GFP. GFP (green fluorescent protein) is responsible for most of the neat pictures of glowing organisms that you're likely to see. However, what they don't tell you is that since it is fluorescent it requires violet or blue light as input. GFP absorbs violet or blue light, blah blah Stokes Shift blah blah, and emits green light. If you're going to shine blue light on your tree, why bother with all the confusing luciferase stuff and--if you want yellow--just include YFP as well (which works just like GFP except it emits yellow, or actually more chartreuse, light).

My guess as to what the group is really trying to do is this: find and use a luciferase-like gene that creates bioluminescence out of common cellular energy carriers, e.g. NADPH. Plants store the energy from sunlight in NADPH, so if you express this gene, they'd glow (at least during the day...). Furthermore, the reaction would ideally produce blue light. It's tough to get blue light out of a plant, because cholorphyll absorbs blue light. But if you tack on a GFP, it will convert the blue light to green and you'll be able to see it fine. Likewise for yellow with YFP. If you want orange or red, you can tack on both a GFP and a coral fluorescent protein, which will turn green light into an orangy color.

It makes a nice headline, but it sounds rather complicated to me. I wouldn't hold your breath for these trees.

Glowing mice?! Cool (1)

Indomitus (578) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588647)

I laughed out loud when I read that they had already created glowing mice. I want pics of that. I don't know why, it just strikes me as very funny to see mice running around glowing in the dark.

Re:Trees (1)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588648)

There are bioluminescent molecules that are not toxic. Luciferin is so expensive that I've no idea whether it is toxic or not, but aequorin (another bioluminescent protein) is not. Best of all, it's calcium-sensitive, so you could "light" your drink by putting in an appropriate high-calcium component. (Of course, it's pH and alcholol sensitive, so it might not work in any really interesting drinks.)

GM trees question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588649)

Aren't European government in general against GM crops? If that's true, why would they even allow self-glowing christmas trees to be grown at all?

Re:Glowing bacteria (1)

Ichoran (106539) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588651)

The glowing is a special reaction, yes. However, the proposal doesn't call for the tree to be able to control the glowing as the firefly can.

Animals and vegetables and fungi and bacteria are all pretty much the same at the level of genes, so that kind of combination isn't a problem. Since the light-production capability of fireflies can be tracked down to one gene (luciferase) and one chemical that can be externally supplied (luciferin, which fireflies make themselves), it's feasible to get plants to glow. However, arms and legs are not nearly so easy to add, since they requires thousands of genes to code for muscles, neurons, skin, appropriate circulatory systems, and all the other junk you find in working arms and legs.

And here I didnt think it was possible... (1)

Dreamweaver (36364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588654)

...to make a tree that's actually tackier than the silver aluminum ones with pink tinsel.
Now, if we can get a glowing tree that grows shiny silver, gold, and red spherical fruits that produce their own insecticides and taste like popcorn balls. Oh, and make the rest of the tree taste like peppermint so when you're done with it you dont have to drag it out to the curb..
Dreamweaver

Re:Luciferase (1)

Derek Pomery (2028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588657)

Lucifer
Light bearing

Yes, I know you were joking. :)

a little too weird for me (1)

festers (106163) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588664)

I find the idea of a glowing x-mas tree in my living room a bit too creepy. Maybe this is right up someones X-File alley, but I like my Christmas Cheer the traditional way, not the Freak-Show way. /fester

Re:Glowing bacteria (1)

else...if (100943) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588665)

Actually, animal and plant genes are identical. In fact, the genes of all multi-cellular creatures and some single cellular ones are all completely interchangeable. Insulin, for example, is now made by transplanting the human gene for insulin into a yeast.

That's not what they're doing (1)

/ (33804) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588666)

They're inserting the appropriate genes into the tree so it'll grow its own luciferase. Much cheaper, and probably equally as important, much more patentable. I could definitely see some corporation like Monsanto getting in on this sort of thing.

More Information (2)

Duds (100634) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588667)

The BBC have an article up about this at This page [bbc.co.uk]

Pretty much the same as we know but its got a picture of a normal tree on it. Which is nice.

Re:I'm all for it (2)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588668)

Ah, but that crazy neon-tree isn't just going to glow on it's own -- no no, that would be too easy. Fireflies don't just glow. They have to produce an enormous amount of energy (relative to their size) in order to glow, and even then they don't glow 24 hours a day. A tree could presumably do the same thing, I guess, but it would need a very constant supply of energy, and if you cut it down in order to bring it into your house, you'd be cutting of it's power supply.

So, you have to power the tree somehow - Electricity or expensive fertilizer: you make the choice.

-----------

"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Re:Of course Americans want this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588669)

i am not a gung-ho american rambo type, but all these people putting down americans, but where was the computer designed that you are using right now, whether it's an intel, sun, compaq, alpha, etc...and most of the software you use whether it is M$,Unix, most apps...
granted, Linux was started in Finland, and the internet has allowed a much smaller and connected world, but still, americans aren't all Pepsi drinking, McDonalds guzzling, lazy fat (ok, maybe most americans are overweight) SOB's.

What's green and wooly and glows in the dark? (2)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588670)

If they're going to try to bring back mammoths, and are going to be a bit short on the DNA...

Anyone for glowing green mammoths?! :-)

Mammoth 2000 - now in your choice of day-glo colors!

I think I'll wait (2)

YourFingerYouFool (74063) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588671)

I'm holding out till they come with there own presents

A Good use of Resources (1)

Raven667 (14867) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588672)

Sarcasim On

Oh, this is what I always hoped gene-splicing would come to. This is the pinnacle of genetic engineering technology. Christmas trees that Glow! When we could be curing cancer or fighting the common cold we are making ugly, gaudy, ultra-American glow-in-the-dark Christmas trees.

/Sarcasim Off

The sad part is that these will probably be popular. I suppose that they will help prevent candle-causing house fires, and save on electricity. But Geeze!

Re:Glowing bacteria (1)

furiousgeorge (30912) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588673)

>>I am now an expert on genetics but is seems >>impossible to me to combine animal and >>vegetable genes. IMHO the differ too much.

In the future you may consider having some knowledge of the topic before posting nonsense. Animal and vegetable genes are just strings of nucleotides. THe don't differ at all. No 'opinion' involved.

Re:Variations (1)

BluBrick (1924) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588674)

Blinking! On-off-on-off-on-off-etc-etc-etc. Of course it's biological, so it would probably be more like on-on-on-off-on-off-off-on.

But wait a second! That looks a lot like binary! Let's have a computer in our Christmas tree! And make it run Linux! Now, what can we make it do? (blank stare)
Beowolf forest! SweeeeT!!

RGB enzymes available - grow your own screen ? (1)

john1 (106860) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588675)

I see in the article that they talk about having enzymes glow blue and red, as well as the green.

This raises some interesting possibilities - a bit more genetic engineering (OK, a lot more) and in the future you might be able to grow you own wall sized computer screen using RGB enzyme triplets.

Only problem is that I'd probably kill it off by forgetting to water it...

Re:now if they'd only grow their own ornaments (2)

Rick_T (3816) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588676)

| On the other hand, a grove of carniverous
| christmas trees just doesn't have a
| big scare factor.

I take it you've never played _Beyond Zork_.

"Vast herds of these luminous vegetables roam freely amid the glacial valleys of the south. Residents fear the autumn migration, in which the trees cheerfully trample anything in their path. Christmas tree monsters are repelled by caterpillars, but nobody can explain why."

Courtesy of _The Lore and Legends of Quendor_.

Now if I could only find out where I put that copy of the glyph of warding ...

Re:Trees (1)

kovi (52074) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588677)

First, it is great that people still have such a crazy ideas like that one :-) Anyways, there is high risk of a failure in this project cause gymnosperms are pretty hard to transform and they grow very slowly. My prediction is if they don't have a transformed lines already, they will be a few years after graduation when this product will hit the market :-) Oh, whatever...
You are right about one thing, aequorin is a protein sentitive to Ca, but it emits light at 470nm (blue region) and, mind you this is very weak emision. It needs to have GFP (green fluorescent protein) (that has excitation at 470 and emision at 508nm) in order to be seen nicely :-)
As for luciferin - this is not a protein! It is a chemical compound, kinda modified riboflavin phosphate. Not too toxic by itself, but requires an enzyme, luciferase to do "glowing" thing.
Details of this and related reactions are at:
http://lifesci.ucsb.edu/~biolum/chem/detail1.htm l
Regards,
kovi

Re:Trees (1)

Bald Wookie (18771) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588678)

And why limit your gene splicing to plants? How fun would it be to have a glow-in-the-dark dog?

Wow, thats cool- you would really know if it was housebroken. Of course your neighbor wouldnt appreciate the glowing puddles on the lawn.

What about glow in the dark bacteria? If you could fit all of the necessary genes on a plasmid you might be able to get it to spread naturally. Then you would know that your roommate did a really lousy job cleaning the bathroom. Also, it might help you figure out when the Kung Pao chicken has passed its prime.

Imagine the possibilities

-BW

Re:This is weirder than it might sound.... (2)

GnrcMan (53534) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588679)

Actually, the article explains that they'd distribute luciferin in a fertilizer packet with the trees!

Re:Hell Yes... (2)

McFarlane (23995) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588680)

America isn't more free just because Americans tell themselves over and over again that it is.

the war on drugs!!!!! and all its ramifications
religious right
crazy patent laws
creationists
lawsuit-o-mania
selective service
nutbar drinking age laws
no cuban cigars or cheap vacations
highest incarceration rate in the western world
3 strikes and "you're out"
bla bla bla

*ON THE OTHER HAND*: it's easy to think of ways America has got the drop on many other Western countries too
For example many European countries have - get this - an official list of names you can name your kids - not on the list, forget it! wierdness! *too* crazy!





Say it, Brother! (1)

borzwazie (101172) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588683)

Right to the point! So what if a bunch of Americans who evidently have more money than taste buy these things. Hell, I think the English are still upset that we don't drink tea with milk in it at 11:00. Or eat kidney pie. Have you ever smelled kidney pie cooking? EEEEEw. And THEY say there's no accounting for taste. You want tacky? Try the Japanese or Mexicans. Those guys are at least as weird as Americans in matters of taste.

Solution to trade war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588685)

ahh, calm down.. set up a dummy company in the usa, and transfer the technology, and voila... a US company under european ownership selling a US made glow-in the dark plant.

You're right about atmos. carbon in trees. (1)

Timothy Chu (2263) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588686)

> I'm guessing that other parts of plants are the
> same way, so the carbon in wood and leaves was
> originally part of atmospheric CO2.

Yup, you're correct. That's why you can grow a plant in pure water (it won't thrive, but it'll grow). Similarly, we lose weight by breathing (though not enough to make a difference, to you dieters out there!)

<tim><

oh? (1)

MenTaLguY (5483) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588694)

On the other hand, a grove of carniverous christmas trees just doesn't have a big scare factor.

Oh really? Maybe that's just because you've never been CHRISTMAS TREE HUNTING at NIGHT when it's DARK and COLD, surrounded by HORDES of FLESH-EATING needley CONIFERS!?!

* Something brushes your shoulder.

* You turn around. There's nothing there. Just you and the trees.

* Just you and the trees.

* Odd, the forest is becoming strangely dense ahead.

* You try to push through. Not much luck. Your efforts are rewarded by a frosty slap in the face from a protruding branch.

* Hrm. Better try backing out and going around.

* ... huh... it wasn't this tight a squeeze going in...

* Gah! Blocked this way too...

* You feel pine needles against your back as you start to back up.

* You look up. The lofty pines arch overhead, completely hiding the sky from view. You see nothing but trees.

* They seem to be closing in around you.

* You see nothing but trees.




* Just you and the trees.




BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHH*?^#@(*&$^(*#@&^$#@

*twitch*


Berlin-- http://www.berlin-consortium.org [berlin-consortium.org]

The glow-in-the-dark dog (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588695)

A recent Nature Biotechnology issue had an article about a "recombinant DNA artist" who has bred a glow-in-the-dark German Shepherd expressing GFP in its fur [nature.com] as well as the paper announcing the red GFP's from coral [nature.com] , with c ommentary [nature.com] .

Requires a password, but if you care enough to read them, you probably already have one...

Re:That's not what they're doing (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588696)

How could the tree continually produce the fertilizer that powers it? And, assuming that it can, wouldn't it be hampered by the fact that someone cut it down and shoved it into their living room?

-----------

"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Good thinking! Re:other possible applications... (1)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588697)

If the cost of luciferase can be brought down, we could use glowing plants in all sorts of useful and decorative applications.

Walking down a winding garden path dimly lit by glowing ornamental shrubs sounds very relaxing and romantic!

Stefan

Speaking of Acronyms... (1)

CleverMonkey (62124) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588698)

(despite the fact that a very small minority of Americans are familiar with the acronym GPF...)

I'm suprised that General Motors isn't getting its panties in a bunch over the constant use of their trademark for the "evil" Genetically Modified stuff.

If somehow the widely used term was Modified S@!#, and it was constantly shortened to MS I can imagine that there would be one large and vocally unhappy corporation. Speaking of which, I wonder how the boyz in Redmond feel about sharing their abbreviation with a crippling disease?


do you have to 'snap' the tree in 1/2 and shake it (1)

pyradigm (101727) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588699)

I heard some English guy wants to use the same jellyfish gene in dogs. hair pigmentation splicing only of course. The morning radio idiots (L.A.)were talking about it the other day...I think they should leave the dogs hair alone and light up its mucus production glands. Late at night a man breaks into your house...creeping stealthly through your livingroom. Your dog, unseen, barks...his mouth opening with a 'muzzle flash' (ha!) and the burgler wets his pants. Plus, imagine the % decrease in stepping in dog shit. You could see it at night, at least until it dried up.

Genetically manipulated plants are a baaad idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588700)

...because unlike genetically engineering improved sheep, rats, or clonign wolly mammoths, which can be confined to a known location, plants can blow pollen or seeds into the air and spread. Glow in the dark pine trees may now be deadly to many different types of insects that usually inhabit pine trees or eat the needles or whatever, and once in the wild, the trees may spread uncontrollably and kill off lots of life. Is this kind of risk acceptable for a mere decorative item? I think not.

off topic Re:Hell Yes... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588701)

I love your sig:
*I am the bully who made gradeschool a living hell for you and all your geek friends... and now I've found you!

I ran into someone like that the other day while I was out of the office on my lunch break. I got to bitch at him for screwing up my hamburger order too :-)

A better idea. (2)

Apuleius (6901) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588702)

In Thailand there's a species of fireflies
that flashes in sync. It's really amazing to see these bugs at night.

How about engineering those babies to take the cold?

But will they grow? (1)

jhardin (106811) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588713)

I wonder whether the energy budget for that would work. If the tree is putting energy into glowing, will it have any energy left over for growing?

Re:Glowing bacteria (2)

Laura J. (89654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588714)

Not only is it possible, it has been done.
This particular technology is not new.
Almost 10 years ago, firefly genes were grafted into tobacco plants (I believe it was at the University of Waterloo, but I'm not positive about that). I saw pictures taken of these plants in 1991. I'll try to come up with the journal cite for it.

Luciferase (1)

jetpack (22743) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588715)

The first gene produces a substance called green fluorescent protein (GFP), while the second results in an enzyme called luciferase.

Luciferase? My god, these trees are spawn of satan!

Re:Trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588716)

I'd like to see glow-in-the-dark shrubs along your driveway (so you can see at night). Glow-in-the-dark ivy would be interesting on building exteriors.

Why am I instantly reminded of Morgul Vale?

Wide flats lay on either bank, shadowy meads filled with pale white flowers. Luminous these were too, beautiful and yet horrible of shape, like the demented forms in an uneasy dream...

And no one can have fun til all problems solved! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1588717)

Oh, this is what I always hoped gene-splicing would come to. This is the pinnacle of genetic engineering technology. Christmas trees that Glow! When we could be curing cancer or fighting the common cold we are making ugly, gaudy, ultra-American glow-in-the-dark Christmas trees.

With this line of thinking, no one could ever do anything fun or wasteful because there would ALWAYS be more worthy or needy things to be done. How dare you own a car or a VCR or a computer or new clothes while children are STARVING in Africa. You are a greedy self-important pig until you give it ALL away and work every waking hour to help those in need... you selfish bastard.

American's will go for this? Unlikely... (1)

SpiceWare (3438) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588718)

I would love one, but I suspect the same groups that are slowing the acceptance of irradiated foods in the USA will have a field day with genetically engineered trees.

Trade wars (3)

Anders Andersson (863) | more than 14 years ago | (#1588719)

However, the controversy between the USA and Europe over genetically modified vegetables may put a dimmer on that christmas illumination. While the European Union demands labelling of genetically modified food, the USA considers responding to these restrictions by placing selected European goods under heavy import duties. Mutant christmas trees from Britain seem to be a prime candidate for this.

Scientific expertise disagree on what impact genetically modified cristmas trees may have on the environment. The producers have been eager to point out that since the tree isn't supposed to be eaten, the effect on humans is most likely nil. Others are not quite that optimistic, and fears have been raised that the gene may spread from domesticated trees to their wild counterparts, possibly making entire forests glow continuously and thus upsetting the natural balance between day and night.

Meanwhile, reports from Russia suggest that another British invention, the allegedly UFO-made crop circles, is being exploited on a grand scale. Siberian hackers are suspected to have sown large amounts of modified conifer seed in a complicated arrangement forming graphics and letters, appearantly hoping to render a functioning encryption program visible on regular satellite photos from the area, thus making it globally available without violating national export legislation.

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