The oxidation of luciferin by luciferase produces oxyluciferin which cannot be used to produce light anymore. It is a competitive inhibitor for the production of luminescence since it can block the active site on the enzyme luciferase. However, researchers identified an enzyme that has the ability to recycle this used up luciferin substrate. The enzyme is called luciferin regenerating enzyme or LRE and it can recover D-luciferin with the help of D-cysteine. The LRE can remove the oxyluciferin with the addition of D-cysteine providing a step towards prolonging the light output from the organism.
Bacterial luminescence is also another possible way for plants being able to produce light. Some of the known bacteria that are luminescent are found in the genera Aliivibrio, Photobacterium, Alteromonas, and Photorhabdus. The light emission system present in the bacteria is encoded by the gene known as lux o...
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... luminous flux. A genetically engineered plant that produces light must have a minimum output of 1000 lumens in order to be comparable with conventional lighting. Fast growing trees have a photosynthetic efficiency, which is the fraction of light energy that can be converted to chemical energy, of about 2% of the total solar energy. This means about 28 W/m2 can be absorbed and stored within the plants. If a tree absorbs this amount of energy during midday, it would only have about half the energy by night time. The tree could be genetically modified in order to only output the light when it is dark which would allow for a greater output. This can be made possible by diverting a portion of the available surplus of energy in the tree to the production of light. The procedure to be able to achieve this may be challenging but it can be made possible with more research.
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