Scientists Growing Plants in the Dark May Be Key to our Future

The other day a popular fast food chain showed online that they were selling an “all black” burger in Japan, including the buns, the cheese and the meat. A little unusual, don’t you think? Well, we’re living in a time when it may even be possible to grow plants in the…wait for it…dark. Yep!

Leave it to research scientists to come up with a very interesting idea of manipulating a light-sensing molecule in plants to trick them into growing in the dark. Plants have a molecule in them known as the phytochrome. It tells them when to germinate, grow, make food, flower and age– kind of like a light switch, right?

According to a recent article in USA Today, plant geneticists at the University of Wisconsin at Madison hope “to create a toolkit of phytochromes that can eventually be used to control agriculture – how plants grow, when they flower, when they die.”

This idea could revolutionize agriculture and the way we grow food, as well as when and where we do it. The intention of the researchers is to be able to boost crop density to keep up with food demand of the world’s ever-growing population. Essentially, humans are playing creator, looking to re-engineer the phytochrome system of plants to control them. Interesting, huh?
Other potential developments in agriculture and plant genetics include growing corn…wait for it… underground. Purdue University researchers are testing out the concept, growing corn in an abandoned limestone mine complete with insulation and heat lamps.

The future of plant life on earth will be interesting, to say the least!

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