July 1, 2022

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Genetically modified plants filter carbon from the atmosphere

With the help of so-called CRISPR technology, genetically modified plants of the future will filter and store carbon from the atmosphere. The research program comes from the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI) and is supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) with $11 million.

Despite the progress of climate change, many people are still very slowly rethinking. Therefore, in the coming years we must not only reduce emissions, but also filter greenhouse gases from our environment. In the case of carbon dioxide (CO2), for example, this is already done by so-called direct air capture systems.

However, the best carbon dioxide vacuum cleaner still comes from nature itself, plants and trees absorb carbon dioxide every day and release the resulting oxygen back into the environment. The researchers now want to take advantage of this and use CRISPR technology to create genetically modified plants that are even the best candidates.

CRISPR technology should help fight climate change

Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI) of California Face this challenge. CRISPR researcher Jennifer Doudna appears to have enough experience. The research is funded by approximately US$11 million by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), an organization of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

The goals are ambitious, but seem feasible. If we increasingly rely on plants modified with CRISPR technology in the future, climate change may slow. By deliberately preventing plant operations, no carbon is emitted but is drawn from the environment. In this way, the efficiency can be greatly increased.

Plants should show the effectiveness of the method as quickly as possible

In the first experiments, smaller plants were selected because they grow much faster than trees. In this way, conclusions can be drawn more quickly in order to further improve the method. However, researchers want to improve one characteristic in particular for the benefit of the environment.

If it is eaten by a plant, animal or human, all substances and emissions are released back into the environment. By specifically changing the genes for root growth, these genes must absorb an especially large amount of carbon.

Because what is left in the earth cannot escape to nature. Based on our current knowledge, researchers initially start with rice plants. However, in the future, many species can be manipulated using CRISPR technology.

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