Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative will receive $30 million from the Bezos Earth Fund to advance efforts to increase the ability of crop plants, such as corn and soybeans, to capture and store atmospheric carbon via their roots in the soil.
This work will explore carbon-sequestration mechanisms in six of the world’s most prevalent crop species with the goal of increasing the plants’ carbon-storage capacity.
It complements an ongoing HPI project focused on identifying genes for increased carbon sequestration in model plants and then utilizing those genes to enhance carbon sequestration in crops.
“The Bezos Earth Fund’s generous donation will help realize an exciting new HPI research program that significantly increases our scientific efforts toward the ultimate goal of utilizing crop plants to mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Salk President and Professor Rusty Gage.
Plants have immense potential to remove excess carbon from Earth’s atmosphere to help respond to the warming planet. The Bezos Earth Fund grant will enable Salk scientists to advance work in plant genetics, genomics, and biochemistry — and use the power of plant diversity — to develop global crops that will increase the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere and store it deep in the earth’s soil.
Last week, San Diego-based Sempra Energy donated $2 million to the Salk Institute to help fund the project.
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