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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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