Yum, the newest flavor treat glows in the dark!

Late last month, as a definitely unique way of celebrating Hallowe’en, Bristol-based specialty ice cream-maker Charlie Harry Francis unveiled what is probably the world’s first-ever glow-in-the-dark ice cream. His secret ingredient? Jellyfish protein.

The ice cream had actually been in the works for several months, ever since Francis and his team discovered that “this amazing scientist from China” had synthesized the luminescence protein from jellyfish.They ordered some, and made ice cream with it.

The protein is reportedly activated by the calcium in the ice cream, and it luminesces when agitated – this means that it glows when you lick it. Francis has tried it, and while there’s no word on the flavor, he has stated that he doesn’t seem to be glowing anywhere, so he assumes it’s safe to eat.

What it isn’t, however, is cheap. Due to the cost of the synthetic protein, he figures that each scoop of the ice cream is worth about £140. Although he hasn’t stated whether or not he plans on making it commercially, it’s probably safe to assume that this is a one-off experiment.

Mail me a penny postcard when the price – even for a trick-or-treat special – gets down to something close to affordable. I look forward to giving it a try.

‘Glow-in-the-dark’ sperm illuminates reproductive behavior

Previously unobservable events occurring between insemination and fertilization are the subject of a groundbreaking new article in Science magazine…By genetically altering fruit flies so that the heads of their sperm were fluorescent green or red, John Belote and his colleagues were able to observe in striking detail what happens to live sperm inside the female. The findings may have huge implications for the fields of reproductive biology, sexual selection and speciation.

According to Scott Pitnick, many advances in reproductive and evolutionary biology have been constrained by the inability to discriminate competing sperm of different males and by the challenges of observing live sperm inside the female reproductive tract. The solution? Glow-in-the-dark sperm. “Our first goal with these flies was to tackle the mechanisms underlying sperm competition,” says Pitnick. “Whenever a female mates with more than one male—and female promiscuity is more the rule than the exception in nature—there are conflicts between the sexes over paternity, as well as competition between rival ejaculates to fertilize eggs. Such postcopulatory sexual selection is a powerful force for evolutionary change…”

Pitnick says his team has created similar glowing sperm populations for other species, including ones that hybridize, so he can observe what happens when sperm and the female are evolutionarily mismatched. “I suspect we have just scratched the surface of using this material,” he says.

It boggles the mind. Might also fit into our never-ending quest for entertainment.