Autoluminescent plants

PLoS One. 2010 Nov 12;5(11):e15461. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015461.


Prospects of obtaining plants glowing in the dark have captivated the imagination of scientists and layman alike. While light emission has been developed into a useful marker of gene expression, bioluminescence in plants remained dependent on externally supplied substrate. Evolutionary conservation of the prokaryotic gene expression machinery enabled expression of the six genes of the lux operon in chloroplasts yielding plants that are capable of autonomous light emission. This work demonstrates that complex metabolic pathways of prokaryotes can be reconstructed and function in plant chloroplasts and that transplastomic plants can emit light that is visible by naked eye.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Chloroplasts / chemistry
  • Chloroplasts / genetics
  • Chloroplasts / metabolism
  • Genome, Chloroplast / genetics
  • Luminescence*
  • Photobacterium / genetics
  • Photobacterium / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Tobacco / chemistry
  • Tobacco / genetics
  • Tobacco / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • LuxI protein, Bacteria
  • Transcription Factors