Christmas Trees Given Jellyfish Genes Could Produce Their Own Light

Stephen Messenger/CC BY 2.0

While 'tis supposedly the season of mirth and merry, nothing dampens a festive spirit quite like discovering an impossible tangle of Christmas lights your former self, in the midst of last year's post-holiday hangover, left for your future self to sort out. But if scientists have their way, one day the ire of burned out bulbs too may be a thing of the past -- instead, your Christmas tree just might produce its own light.

As it turns out, British genetic engineers have spent years perfecting a process whereby your run-of-the-mill Christmas tree could be modified to literally glow from within. The only downside, of course, is that your self-lit holiday centerpiece would be actually be a Frankenstein tree.

According to one BBC report, a team of postgraduate researchers from the University of Hertfordshire have devised a way to splice the bioluminescent properties of jellyfish and fireflies into the genes of a Douglas spruce, thereby creating a tree which would glow green both day and night, without adding a cent to your electricity bill.

"It is quite feasible. The only problem in reality is the cost," said researcher Kay Presland, who in 1999, first spearheaded the study of glowing spruces. "We calculate that the initial trees would cost about £200 ($320), which means going for the upper end of the market. But I'm sure a lot of people would love them, especially the Americans."

Naturally, admits Presland, there are manly folks who would be skeptical of housing a self-illumated Christmas tree. "People are always afraid of the unknown," she says in an interview with McSweeney. "Man wouldn’t have developed past the wheel had we stopped at everyone’s distaste."

Still, it's no wonder Christmas tree consumers might feel wary of embracing a jellyfish-firefly tree into their homes, even beyond the eerie glow it promises to emit and the premium price.

After all, the thought of a jolly, bearded man covertly entering our living rooms Christmas morning is hard enough to swallow as it is -- and he only asks for milk and cookies.

Tags: Christmas | Genetic Engineering | Holidays

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