Developing genetically modified trees and plants could capture billions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere annually and reduce the impacts of global warming, a new U.S. study says. In the study, researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory explore methods of enhancing the processes by which plants sequester carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into long-lived forms of carbon that can be stored inside the plants — and, ultimately, in the soil.
The scientists said it could be possible to genetically alter plants and trees so they send more carbon to their roots, where some carbon would be absorbed by the soil, where it could be stored for centuries. Another possibility is making plants better resistant to the stresses of growing on marginal land, which would not only improve plant production for bioenergy and food crops but also increase the carbon the plants can pull from the atmosphere. The study is published in the journal BioScience.