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Glow-in-the-Dark Flowers

Psalm 96:12-13a: “Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice Before the LORD.”

Researchers at Stanford University surprised scientific colleagues several years ago when they proved that plants were not… well, vegetative. We think of plants as things that sit and grow, not as living things that can react to their environment. Now researchers at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, have shown that plants not only react to the environment, they react with the same immediacy as animals.

The Edinburgh researchers knew that plants react to a breeze or other wind movement by adding calcium to their cell walls. Plant cell walls typically have calcium in them. The calcium acts as an internal skeleton, giving strength to the plant. When stressed by wind currents, plants strengthen themselves by adding more calcium to their cell walls.

Researchers used a novel method to study how quickly plants react. They added to the plants jellyfish genes that bind to calcium and glow blue as the calcium level increases. Then they squirted the plants with puffs of air. The increased blue glow showed that plants react almost immediately to air movement by adding calcium to their cells. The researchers have been contacted by private companies that want to find out whether this technique can be used to develop glow- in-the-dark flowers or glowing grass to plant around airport runways.

When God created plants, He gave them abilities that seem surprising to those who think that they are a simple form of life.

Prayer: I thank You, Lord, that You have filled Your creation with wonders beyond counting. I ask that You would help me identify the effects of evolutionary thinking that devalue the wonder of Your creation in my thinking so that I may better praise You. Amen.

Notes: “Glow little stressed plant, glow.” Science News, Vol. 141, June 6, p. 379.

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