What makes for a prettier sight on the walk home after a long day of work—a sea of grey, flickering street lights, or a line of glow in the dark trees, illuminating the path back home? Sure, it sounds like something straight out of a dream, or maybe the latest Disney movie, but this is a very real possibility for the future. But how is this even possible?

Gene splicing

Daan Roosegard, along with the help of State University of New York and scientist Alexander Krichevsky, plan to accomplish this by using gene splicing. According to Gene Therapy Solutions, gene splicing consists of a process where DNA molecules are cut up, and a new strand is inserted from another organism.

In this case, it would be vegetation fused with specific molecules from mushrooms, jellyfish, or fireflies that cause them to glow in the dark—biomimicry techniques. Trees are the end goal of the project, but for now, they’ve been successful with a houseplant—the ever important baby steps.

It may seem like a leap, but a tree is an achievable goal. Chinese scientists have already spliced a jellyfish to create a glow in the dark pig, along with scientists and Turkey who have created bioluminescent bunnies. A tree is much less complex, not to mention ethical, to experiment on.

Is this safe?

Perfectly safe! Sure, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) have gotten a bad reputation these days, but guess what else is genetically modified? Corn. Originally simply maize, it’s been modified into corn picked up at a local supermarket.

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There are several strains that have been modified at the genetic level to resist pests and herbicides. Bot most important, these trees are for your eyes, not your stomach. A jellyfish isn’t dangerous because it can glow in the dark. Sure, some modified crops and animals, if consumed, can be dangerous, but that’s not the point.

Glow-in-the-dark-trees, why plant them?

With the recent news that the atmosphere has been steadily losing oxygen, along with a carbon dioxide threshold unseen in 15 million years, and smog-laden cities, it’s more important now than ever to take conservation efforts. Thanks to photosynthesis, trees can store carbon, stabilize soil, and emit oxygen.

Not to mention the aesthetics. Bright, vibrant green and rich, brown earth are easier on the eyes and would be much more appealing than dull, lifeless, concrete grey. Once the method is ironed out, they’d also be cost-effective. After all, electricity is expensive. The tree's  glow in the dark properties are entirely intrinsic to its very being, and would be no different than caring for a normal tree.

While they may not be quite as bright as a street light, they would be helpful in at least providing some light, especially in rustic areas where establishing electric lights would be much more difficult than simply planting a tree, and they wouldn't ruin the scenary.