Under normal conditions, the tobacco plant has a rather uninspiring lifespan. They grow for three or four months, according to Investor's Business Daily, reaching 6.5 feet (2 meters) in height at the most, while their older leaves turn yellow and fall off. After flowering, the plants die.
But researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) in Münster, Germany, have isolated the genetic switch that tells the tobacco plant to stop growing, flower and die. By suppressing that gene, the scientists have tricked the plants into growing like Jack's beanstalk — even the older leaves stay green and healthy.