Genetically altered trees, plants could help counter global warming

Forests of genetically altered trees and other plants could sequester several billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year and so help ameliorate global warming, according to estimates published in the October issue of BioScience.

The study, by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, outlines a variety of strategies for augmenting the processes that use to sequester carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into long-lived forms of carbon, first in vegetation and ultimately in soil.

Besides increasing the efficiency of plants' absorption of light, researchers might be able to genetically alter plants so they send more carbon into their roots--where some may be converted into and remain out of circulation for centuries. Other possibilities include altering plants so that they can better withstand the stresses of growing on marginal land, and so that they yield improved bioenergy and . Such innovations might, in combination, boost substantially the amount of carbon that vegetation naturally extracts from air, according to the authors' estimates.

The researchers stress that the use of genetically engineered plants for is only one of many policy initiatives and technical tools that might boost the carbon sequestration already occurring in natural vegetation and crops.

The article, by Christer Jansson, Stan D. Wullschleger, Udaya C. Kalluri, and Gerald A. Tuskan, is the first in a Special Section in the October BioScience that includes several perspectives on the prospects for enhancing biological carbon sequestration. Other articles in the section analyze the substantial ecological and economic constraints that limit such efforts. One article discusses the prospects for sequestering carbon by culturing algae to produce biofuel feedstocks; one proposes a modification of the current regulatory climate for producing genetically engineered trees in the United States; and one discusses societal perceptions of the issues surrounding the use of genetically altered organisms to ameliorate warming attributed to the buildup of greenhouse gases.


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Citation: Genetically altered trees, plants could help counter global warming (2010, October 1) retrieved 19 April 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2010-10-genetically-trees-counter-global.html
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Oct 01, 2010
If the government is going to tax carbon production by $30 per ton shouldn't they also PAY $30 per ton to people and companies per ton of negative net carbon?

Oct 02, 2010
I wonder why they can't stop creating carbon in the atmosphere? It seems like that should be the real goal here not screwing around yet again with Mother Nature. No doubt the GM traits will be up for substantial patent profits should anyone inadvertently have a seed sow itself on their land.
How about we invest all that money into developing sustainable energy sources instead of messing things up even further?
Oh but of course that's not profitable is it?

Oct 02, 2010
Kev_C:

Precisely. In capitalism there is no motivation to solve problems, only motivation to keep customers coming back for more "fixes".

Oct 02, 2010
That IS the motivation of any successful business, meet the needs of their customers. If the business can't solve the problem the customer seeks a competitor.


Across the board, automobiles verifiably get same or worse mileage than they did 20 years ago, and they break down more often.

Oct 03, 2010
Marjon:

88 mazda and 87 toyota trucks got better mileage than anything currently even claims to get.

I used to get 30 to 35mpg in my 88 mazda when it was already 10 to 13 years old.

The same was true for my parents' first two toyota trucks.

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