GLOWING ANIMALS: Pictures of Beasts Shining for Science

GLOWING ANIMALS: Pictures of Beasts Shining for Science
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Tobacco


How does it glow?


Firefly luciferase gene, introduced via a virus into tobacco DNA (1986)

What can we learn?

Iowa State University scientists inserted a genetic structure from fireflies into a tobacco plant, causing it to glow.

Unlike the gleam spurred by green fluorescent protein, the firefly-derived glow--caused by the pigment luciferin and the enzyme luciferase--does not require ultraviolet light to fluoresce. The firefly light, though, does require oxygen and, under some conditions, ATP, a molecule involved in energy storage inside cells.
—Photograph courtesy Iowa State University
 
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