Global warming and global warming are some of the biggest and most pressing problems in our world, but so far no one has been able to find a successful solution.
However, a new study could lead to a breakthrough, as the Innovative Genome Institute (IGI) will use a genetic engineering technique called CRISPR to enhance plants’ ability to sequester carbon to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. MIT Technology Review.
Jennifer Doudna, the American researcher who created the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic engineering method, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 for creating the method, and her recently launched research team has received huge support since the project began, with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla making a donation to the Chan Foundation. With $11 million for a research team working to create carbonaceous plants.
It will not be an easy task for researchers, as many experts have been searching for years how to neutralize carbon dioxide in the air and at the same time reduce the greenhouse effect, but not everyone imagines how to avoid climate catastrophe with the help of super crops. Several large companies and research groups, including Global Thermostat in New York, Carbon Engineering in Canada, or Climeworks in Switzerland, are anticipating a direct way to clean the air.
They trust the crops
The research team envisions a solution with plants, especially crops. While most trees can sequester carbon for decades or centuries because grains grow faster, testing on them is also faster, which is one of the most important factors when it comes to climate protection.
The primary goal of the researchers’ work on plants will be to get access to photosynthesis so they can grow faster. By modifying the enzymes, the researchers hope that plants will not need any side reactions to grow, especially those that produce carbon dioxide.
However, this is not the only part of the research that needs to be addressed, as in most cases carbon trapped in plants is returned to the air as it either decomposes in the soil or is eaten by humans and animals. For this reason, retaining carbon in the soil is just as important as interfering with photosynthesis, so the researchers give plants with much longer roots so that the carbon doesn’t reach the surface while destroying them. Another option is to make bio-oil or biochar from modified plants, which can be pumped deep into the ground for storage.
It is not easy, but we accept the challenge. We hope that when we talk about climate change, crops, microbes and agriculture will actually be part of the solution, not the problem.
Happy Brad Rengensen, Managing Director of IGI.
Initial research from the Institute of Innovative Genomics focuses on rice, but they are confident that they will soon be able to effectively alter genes in plants like sorghum, an unusual challenge but they believe they have no time to lose.
(Cover image: Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Aurelien Monnier/Getty Images)
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