Squid genes may one day illuminate the City of Lights


In Paris, start-up Glowee is hoping to light up the world’s most romantic city with bacteria engineered to contain squid genes.

Glowee founder Sandra Rey tells Wired the company inserts bioluminescence genes from the Hawaiian bobtail squid into bacteria to create bulbs with a soft, green low that do not require electricity.

The challenge is creating an environment in which the bacteria do not quickly consume all of the nutrients within their encasement. Rey’s team has managed to create a prototype that lasts a month. “Our light will be a service,” Rey explains. “We provide the raw material, and when it doesn’t work anymore, we will provide new ones.”

The company has raised €1.7 million (USD1.8 million), and investors include France’s electricity utility. So far, Glowee has created installations for a few French retailers, which are not allowed to light windows between 1 AM and 7 AM. Rey aims to make Christmas installations later this year.