Three undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin have launched a crowdfunding campaign for a kit to make a ‘Biobulb‘. AnaElise Beckman, Alexandra Cohn and Michael Zaiken are developing the “closed ecosystem” filled with genetically engineered bacteria that can light up naturally like fireflies and jellyfish.
The ecosystem consists of several different microbes, each of which plays a role in nutrient recycling and population control. It supports a population of genetically engineered E. Coli, which are transformed with a plasmid that contains the genes for bioluminescence.
The result will be a stable ecosystem that glows in the dark. The students also plan to experiment with different bioluminescence proteins to determine which species’ native genes produce the best glow in the E. Coli.
A starter kit is available for a contribution of $100, which can be used to create your own Biobulb at home. This kit will include a frozen starter culture and powdered media formula. These simply need to be placed into a closed container with water to produce the Biobulb. You can watch the video below to learn more about this project: