Genetic engineering, of course, is nothing new. If you include cross-breeding and crop segregation, then the practice is actually millenniums old. Such engineering, whether by artificial selection or actual gene splicing, has resulted in practical applications, such as disease-resistant crops.
Otherwise, the changes might be more aesthetic, such as in 1986, when geneticists spliced the bioluminescent genes of fireflies and tobacco plants, resulting in an eerie glowing tobacco plant. Odd, yes, but what if the traditional Christmas tree was engineered the same way?
Would celebrants of holiday exchange their traditional tree-lighting ceremony for a glowing version? In 1999, researcher Kay Presland, of the University of Hertfordshire, began work splicing the genes of bioluminescent jellyfish and fireflies with Douglas Spruce trees. The resulting tree glows day and night, requires no electricity, and won’t set itself on fire.
Presland admits that it probably won’t be popular, saying, “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.”
On the other hand, regarding some people’s willingness to embrace such an interesting addition to tradition, Presland continued, “People are always afraid of the unknown.” I’m guessing this could include a self-illuminating frankentree.