Instructables

Fluorescent Plants

Recently I presented a science teacher in my school, Mr. Zhang with the idea of growing plants with tonic water which contains quinine to see if they would glow under a black light. Today we saw that these bean sprouts had defused and taken in the tonic water, as a result the bean sprouts were fluorescent under the black light. I first chose the mung bean / bean sprout because I know that bean sprouts are translucent and it would be easier to see the glow, but now I want to find out if the seed will take in the quinine, and if so would the quinine be in the flesh of the plant at all. Another test that Mr. Zhang and I were considering was to use a tonic water in a hydroponic system to see if the plants utilize the quinine. Dr. Paul Williams suggested that I grow fastplants in the dark, because their stem is translucent is grown in the dark. (Mr. Zhang knew him from a workshop he did involving fastplants) I'll be updating this as I continue the study, I'll start growing very soon, as soon as I order the supplies that are necessary. The picture below, is of two mung beans, the one on the left took in the quinine, and the one of the right is normal.

Picture of Fluorescent Plants
Masterdude5 years ago
You could also try growing them hydroponically with super heavy water enriched with phosphor or phosphate.
n8man5 years ago
Whatever you do, don't eat the magic glowing beans (a beanstalk might grow out of your mouth)
kelseymh5 years ago
Has recombinant DNA become high-school level biology yet? You could build on this success by following in the footsteps of this year's Nobel Prize winners, and see if you can insert the GFP gene into one of your plants.
bumpus kelseymh5 years ago
In eighth grade biology, we learned how to sex flowers, and how to cross-breed them to get ridiculous colors and pedal designs.. I wish I paid more attention..
caitlinsdad5 years ago
That's interesting. How about taking carnations or other flowers to see how it absorbs the tonic, much like it can be dyed a certain color by absorbing through the water. That would be a different experiment though.
Kiteman5 years ago
If you're going to be growing the plant without quinine from this point, you will nee much more sensitive detection equipment to find the glow in the flesh of the adult plant.

Brilliant project, though - glowing food without genetic modification.

Here's a thought - what effect has this experiment had on the flavour of the sprout?
astrozombies138 (author)  Kiteman5 years ago
Well, in general quinine has a bitter taste, I believe that they actually used it's bitterness to enduce vomiting. -- I'll still be growing the plant with quinine, but I'm wondering that if grew something like grass, would the flesh of the plant glow?
I think its just absorbing it like celery can absorb food colored water. What about growing two regular plants and then adding flourescence dye to one to see how long it takes to make the plant to glow?
Great project. Does a transection of the stem fluoresce? And just for anyone who doesn't know.fast plants
kelseymh5 years ago
Most excellent! I hope that you've taken photos and good labbook notes along the way. This whole project would make a very good I'ble. Congratulations on your success so far!
NachoMahma5 years ago
. Very interesting. Keep us updated.