The Mechanism behind the Heart Shaped Herb's Purple Glow

Angel Johnson


This paper will investigate the mechanism behind the purple glow produced by the heart shaped herb seen in the Black Panther movie. Auto-luminescent plants Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco plant) have been produced facilitated by the horizontal gene transfer of the lux operon gene from bacteria. There are many bioluminescent marine species which live deep in the sea; these include anglerfish and Watasenia scintillans, also known as a firefly squid. Their luminescent properties are due to bioluminescent bacteria and photophores. This paper will investigate whether these bacteria can be used to produce the glow in the heart shaped herb.  


Film; Biology; Bioluminescence; Heart Shaped Herb; Marvel; Black Panther

Full Text:



Coogler, R., Cole, J.R., Lee, S. & Kirby, J. (2018) Black Panther. [Film] Directed by Ryan Coogler. USA/UK: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. First released 13 February 2018.

Marvel cinematic universe wiki. (N/A) Heart-Shaped Herb, Available at: [Accessed: 3 March 2023]

Willis, A. (2018) Glow-in-the-dark Plants, Ask a Biologist, Available at: [Accessed: 4 March 2023]

Krichevsky, A., Meyers, B., Vainstein, A., Maliga, P., & Citovsky, V. (2010) Autoluminescent Plants, PlosOne, 5(11), p.e15461. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015461

Ramanujan, K. (2018) Genetics shed light on symbiosis of angler fish and glowing bacteria, Cornell Chronicle. Available at: [Accessed: 8 March 2023]

Marranzino, A. (2019) How the anglerfish gets its light, Oceanbites, Available at: [Accessed: 6 March 2023]

Sea and Sky. (2016) Firefly Squid, Available at: [Accessed: 8 March 2023]

Abby (2014) Bioluminescence, Fishionary. Available at: [Accessed: 8 March 2023]

Worldbuilding. (2014) What would be the evolutionary advantage for plants to be bioluminescent?, Available at: [Accessed: 8 March 2023]

Friends of the Earth. (2017) Why do we need bees? Available at: [Accessed: 2 March 2023]


  • There are currently no refbacks.
We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.