Glowing bunnies are a real thing? It sounds like something out of a crazy sci-fi thriller, but it's actually true! Apparently two bunnies with florescent shade were born in Turkey and glowing sheep could follow, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. The baby rabbits look like their typical cute and furry critter siblings by the daylight, however, they burst with fluorescent green color when placed under a blacklight.
The special bunnies, along with their non-transgenic brothers and sisters, were born in the beginning of August, the L.A. Times said, at the University of Istanbul. So how did they get their radiant hue? Scientists from the university inserted a jellyfish gene, which holds a protein that makes the gelatinous creatures go through a process called transgenesis.
It’s only visible by ultraviolet light, which makes the special bunnies look like their brothers and sisters during the day. The jellyfish’s protein emits light when it’s exposed to a backlight, Discovery News wrote Tuesday.
Stefan Moisyadi, an associate professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa who worked with the Turkish team, told the news site inserting the glowing gene is a safe process; it doesn’t hurt the rabbits or affect their lifespan. Apparently, the glowing bunnies will pass the jellyfish gene to their offspring.
The team eventually would like to do this process with larger mammals like sheep and cattle, the L.A. Times noted.
"Our main plan was to do sheep, but they only have one or two embryos max," Moisyadi said. "Right now we have 10 pregnant sheep, and we hope that 25 percent of the babies glow green -- maybe two or three of them."
So what’s the point of making animals glow? Moisyadi told the Times that the ultimate goal is to make it possible for the genes to be inserted into cattle and then use proteins from the animals in medications.
"Animals can make valuable proteins in their milk that humans use for medicine, and you can extract the proteins quite easily," Moisyadi said. "It would make certain pharmaceutical production extremely cost-effective."
Right now, according to Discovery News, cats were engineered to carry a protein that protects animals from infection by the feline immunodeficiency virus, which is the cat form of HIV. Then, researches added the glowing gene so they could tell which cats carried the protection against FIV, which would otherwise be undetectable,
Genetic engineers have already created pigs, dogs and mice that glow, Discovery News added.