Scientists explain how genetically engineered organisms can help diminish atmospheric carbon and tackle climate change. Co-authors of the opinion piece, published in BioDesign Research, include MBL Distinguished Scientist Jerry Melillo.
From NANJING AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCE
Climate change is a major global crisis. Despite international agreements to fight climate change, greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and global temperatures continue to rise. The potential effects on our lives are drastic: recent wildfires in the US and Australia, floods due to heavier precipitation, and heavy losses of crops are all indicative of this. But simply reducing the production of greenhouse gases, although crucial, is not enough. The CO2 that we’ve released, and are continuing to release into the atmosphere, remains there indefinitely. Climate change will thus continue to worsen unless atmospheric carbon is removed. Therefore, finding cutting-edge solutions for the active removal of greenhouse gases is crucial.
With this in mind, a group of scientists from the US and Israel have proposed a CO2 removal strategy that utilizes the powerful methods of synthetic and systems biology (SSB). The further development and deployment of SSB could enable the modification of plants to remove CO2 from the atmosphere irreversibly. At a symposium held in Boston, the scientists discussed their ideas for mitigating the negative effects of climate change, with their findings published in BioDesign Research. Professor Charles DeLisi of Boston University, lead author of this paper, explains this concept using an interesting analogy, “Engineers learned long ago how to design and manufacture circuits to perform desired tasks. In the past two decades, biomedical engineers have begun to learn to design and manipulate the circuitry that enables cells to carry out biological processes with enhanced functions: in this case, CO2 removal.”
In this paper, the scientists began by summarizing a few ways in which these bioengineered, sustainable plant phenotypes can be developed. Read more …