Glowing Plant project

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The Glowing Plant project was the first crowdfunding campaign for a synthetic biology application. The project was started by the Sunnyvale-based hackerspace Biocurious as part of the DIYbio philosophy. According to the project's goals, funds were used to create a glowing Arabidopsis thaliana plant. Long-term ambitions (never realized) included the development of glowing trees that can be used to replace street lights, reducing CO2 emissions by not requiring electricity.

Project funding[edit]

Using Kickstarter, the project's founders raised $484,000 on June 8, 2013.[1] This was significantly more than the initial target of $65,000.

Seeds were initially scheduled to be delivered in April 2014. In March 2016, delivery of seeds was forecast for 2016 on the Glowing Plant website.[2] The company encountered difficulty getting plants to emit significant amounts of light, and announced via email December 2017 that it was permanently ceasing operations.

Interest in synthetic biology[edit]

Washington Post writes that Glowing Plant Project sparked interest in synthetic biology.[3]


The project generated widespread media attention and a discussion of appropriate uses of biotechnology.[4] As a result of the controversy, Kickstarter decided to prohibit genetically modified organisms as rewards to project backers.[5]

Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture has shown no regulatory concerns about the project, some synthetic biologists and policy researchers have questioned the project's feasibility and impact on future oversight or public opinion of synthetic biology.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Glowing Plants: Natural Lighting with no Electricity by Antony Evans — Kickstarter
  2. ^ "Progress to date". Glowing Plant website. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  3. ^ Basulto, Dominic (2015). "Washington Post writes that Glowing Plant Project sparked interest in synthetic biology". Washington Post.
  4. ^ Ariana Eunjung Cha (October 5, 2013). "Glowing plants spark environmental debate". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on October 20, 2014. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  5. ^ David Holmes (August 2, 2013). "Why did Kickstarter ban GMOs?". PandoDaily.
  6. ^ Ewen Callaway (4 June 2013). "Glowing plants spark debate". Nature News & Comment. 498 (7452). pp. 15–16. doi:10.1038/498015a. PMID 23739402. Retrieved 21 September 2014.

External links[edit]