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  (Source: Take Pride in Utah)
Sending carbon to their roots to become soil carbon could sequester it for centuries

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers claim that global warming can be fought through the use of genetically altered trees and plants.

The leaders of the study – Christer Jansson, Stan D. Wullschleger, Udaya C. Kalluri, and Gerald A. Tuskan – believe that creating forests of genetically altered trees and plants will remove "several billion tons of carbon" annually from the atmosphere, ultimately helping in the battle against global warming.

Researchers plan to increase the efficiency of these trees and plants' natural processes that allow them to remove carbon dioxide from the air by transforming it into "long-lived" forms of carbon. They would like to do this first in vegetation, and eventually in soil. 

Genetically altering trees and plants' absorption of light isn't all these researchers are looking to do, though. In addition, they'd like to make it so that these plants send more carbon into their roots as well, which would transform some of it into soil carbon. This could stifle the carbon and keep it from the air for centuries. 

Researchers are also genetically altering plants to "better withstand" the complications of growing on marginal land in order to produce improved food crops and bioenergy. This could increase the amount of carbon plants take in from the air significantly. 

The combination of genetically altered trees and plants sending carbon to its roots to be put to rest for centuries along with improved bioenergy and food crop production could yield results that are beneficial to fighting global warming and its consequences. 

This study was published in Bioscience.

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Let me guess...
By jimhsu on 10/1/2010 5:08:30 PM , Rating: 2
Let me guess ... one of their primary focuses will be RuBisco (or ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase, for the non-biologists) - yup, found it. That enzyme is seriously the worst enzyme ever designed by nature, at least in terms of efficiency (a total of three (3) CO2 molecules per second) - yes I've heard the arguments, but it's still a bad enzyme. Unfortunately, it's still difficult to improve it.

That, and generally getting CO2 more efficiently into the plant. Unfortunately for humans, plants are engineered for survival and reproduction, not maximum CO2 conversion capability. Genetic engineering is at least an attempt to fix that.

RE: Let me guess...
By jimhsu on 10/1/2010 5:09:34 PM , Rating: 2
For a tech analogy, improving Rubisco would be like replacing a HDD with a SSD in a PC, as far as the "performance improvement" is concerned.

RE: Let me guess...
By Raraniel on 10/2/2010 9:12:34 PM , Rating: 2
Heh, better hope they don't increase the turnover to anything approaching catalase, or we'll quickly find the scale tipping on the other end of the spectrum.

RE: Let me guess...
By jimhsu on 10/2/2010 10:26:27 PM , Rating: 2
I don't even think that's physically possible, but if it is, we have some seriously crazy mutant plant life to contend with. May be a problem, maybe not (enough food to feed the world hundreds of times over). Most likely not because CO2 levels and sunlight will be the rate-limiting step then.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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