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PatrikD8 karma

YES PLEASE! We get lots of people who've never done biology or other sciences before. We're more than happy to teach, and to find a good use for your own particular non-bio talents. Science to the people!

PatrikD6 karma

Just to expand on that a bit:

There are two ways to change the color. One approach is to use accessory proteins that can absorb some of the energy produced by the luciferase reaction, and retransmit it at a different frequency. You would lose some energy in the process, but if you wind up with a color that is more in the center of the human visual spectrum, the light may actually appear brighter. There are a number of proteins that could be used for this trick, but this has not yet been demonstrated in plants.

The other approach is to make small changes in the luciferase gene itself to change the wavelength of the light produced. This has already been done for firefly luciferase and for green fluorescent protein, but not yet for the bacterial luciferase.

Either way, we'll need to do a bit more research to achieve different colors using the bacterial lux pathway in plants. But we know in theory how we would go about it.

PatrikD5 karma

Mostly, as federal funding is getting tighter, the amount of leeway you have to just explore for the heck of it dwindles to close to zero. And if you want to learn an entirely new field - well our educational system isn't really set up for that either.

PatrikD5 karma

Background of people involved in the space is all over the place. We've got a few people with PhDs to ask questions when shit gets serious. We've got some electronics and computer hackers. We got some highschoolers who just want to learn stuff. We got some artists, philosophers, stay-at-home moms, homebrewers, guerilla gardeners, homeless geniuses, dancers, vegans, statistician-photographers, amateur and professional neuroscientists, and more!

PatrikD5 karma

In practice, these glowing plants will be far less bright than street lights. In fact, initially we'll be happy if we can get them as bright as your average firefly.

It would take far more development to achieve something that could realistically replace streetlights. And the brighter we can make them, the more metabolic energy we sap from the plant, so the less likely they would be to survive in the wild.