Breakthrough on climate change: New research shows

San Francisco, Calif., Feb. 23. 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Living Carbon, a public benefit company improving natural solutions in plants to enhance carbon capture, has shared new research showing that photosynthesis-enhanced trees can capture 27 percent carbon dioxide. more carbon due to faster growth rate and 53% more biomass accumulation. Published in a white paper, these groundbreaking findings demonstrate, for the first time in trees, the potential to capture more carbon in less time and underscore the role of responsible biotechnology in rebalancing the planet’s carbon cycle. The goal of Living Carbon’s photosynthesis enhancement research is to enable commonly planted trees to photosynthesize with the same ability as the most efficient 15% of plants.

The body of research, based on decades of research in the scientific community and collected over two years over multiple propagation cycles of photosynthesis-enhanced hybrid poplar seedlings, shows how this enhanced genetic trait could be a living climate solution ready to be deployed. in large scale. Targeting over 3,000 acres of carbon projects with private landowners in the Southeastern United States, Living Carbon’s comprehensive research analysis facilitates a new ecological and economic era where advanced biotechnology will be used to provide solutions cost-effective and scalable carbon removal solutions.

Co-founded by Maddie Hall and Patrick Mellor, with the expertise of Chief Scientific Officer Yumin Tao, Living Carbon’s mission as a public benefit corporation is to respond to the urgency of the climate crisis by using genetic engineering to s build on billions of years of evolution to balance the climate in the time frame available to us.

Maddie Hall, co-founder and CEO of Living Carbon says, “We are past the point where reducing emissions alone will be enough to rebalance our ecosystems and stabilize our planet. It’s time for large-scale carbon removal. Our goal is to reduce global emissions by 2% by 2050 using approximately 13 million acres of land. Today’s research is just the first step in demonstrating how empowering ecology, through the responsible use of biotechnology in trees, can be a scalable and viable solution to the climate crisis.

Living Carbon builds on what nature already does by asking the question, “Are we able to store carbon with the same ingenuity that enabled us to release it?” Some plants have naturally evolved a similar method of increasing photosynthesis efficiency, known as C4 photosynthesis, which relies on anatomical changes that are only possible in a certain group of plants. Living Carbon’s method achieves similar carbon capture results without the need for elaborate anatomical modifications, but by utilizing and enhancing natural processes. To grow faster, the trees in Living Carbon recycle a toxic byproduct of photosynthesis with less energy, capturing more CO2 over time.

Photosynthesis-enhanced trees are just one of many climate solutions the company is exploring. Living Carbon has also developed a trait that allows trees to accumulate higher levels of metals in their roots, naturally slowing decay to increase carbon storage life, produce more durable wood products and clean up toxic soils. by industrial activity. Leveraging a unique ability to grow on land with high concentrations of heavy metals, the company targets underperforming forest land and abandoned agricultural and mining land to bring investment to former mining communities and restore overly toxic land for other plants.

Living Carbon has a multi-year research and development partnership with Oregon State University (OSU) to plant photosynthetically enhanced trees and provide ongoing molecular and physiological analysis.

“It is exciting to work closely with Living Carbon to field test this new approach to improving the efficiency of photosynthesis. If successful in the field, it would be possible to also increase the potential for carbon uptake and storage in the planted trees. Living Carbon has an excellent group of scientists who work closely with our own teachers and students to bring the best ideas and technologies to work. said Steve Strauss, professor emeritus of forest biotechnology in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University.

Although a new space, Living Carbon has raised $15 million from investors to create a future in which carbon sequestration makes economic and ecological sense. This ecosystem includes Felicis Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital, Goat Capital, Prelude Ventures, Floodgate, MCJ Collective, Homebrew Ventures and EQT Foundation, as well as many top angel investors including Kimball & Christiana Musk, Scott Belsky, Albert Wenger & Susan Danziger and Matt Brezina.

“Living Carbon is a special company because it has figured out how to use advanced biotechnology and innovation in plant biology to make trees capture more carbon while growing faster and being much more resistant to decay. This approach innovation can completely shift the balance in our quest for a much greener, carbon-free world. Said Aydin Senkut, Founder and Managing Partner of Felicis Ventures

To access the full white paper, see the link in the executive summary. To read an abridged version, click here and to receive future updates on Living Carbon, including when its photosynthesis-enhanced trees become available for purchase, subscribe here.


About Living Carbon:

Living Carbon is a charitable corporation whose mission is to responsibly balance the planet’s carbon cycle using the inherent power of plants. Beginning with photosynthetically enhanced trees, the company demonstrates the promise of advanced biotechnology to restore ecosystems, enhance biodiversity, and enhance the ability of photosynthetic organisms to draw up and store carbon from the atmosphere. To learn more about Living Carbon’s technology and current projects, visit:

Summary of the white paper:

Rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere and the resulting negative impacts on climate change have constrained global efforts to achieve carbon neutrality or carbon negativity. Most of these efforts focus on carbon sequestration through chemical or physical approaches. We aim to harness the power of synthetic biology to enhance the natural ability of plants to tap into and sequester carbon, thereby positively affecting climate change. The last decades of scientific progress have shed light on strategies to overcome the intrinsic limits of carbon uptake and sequestration by photosynthesis, especially in row crops in the hope of improving agricultural productivity for food security. . The incorporation of a photorespiration bypass into C3 plants showed promising results of increased biomass and grain yield. Despite their globally dominant role in atmospheric carbon flux, the drawdown rates of most trees are currently limited by their C3 photosynthetic metabolism, and efforts to improve the photosynthetic capacity of trees, for example by reducing the loss of energy in photorespiration, are currently lacking. Here, we selected a photorespiration bypass and tested its efficacy on enhancing photosynthesis in INRA717-IB4 hybrid poplar. The design includes an RNAi strategy to reduce the transport of the photorespiration byproduct, glycolate, out of the chloroplast and a bypass pathway to metabolize the retained glycolate to CO2 for attachment through the Calvin-Benson cycle. Molecular and physiological data collected from two replicate growth experiments indicate that transgenic plants expressing genes in the photorespiration bypass pathway have increased photosynthetic efficiency, resulting in faster plant growth and high biomass production. A main transgenic event accumulated 53% more aboveground dry biomass over a five-month growth period in a controlled environment. Pilot projects with photosynthetically enhanced trees in the field are underway. Our findings provide proof of concept for engineering trees to help combat climate change. Access the white paper here.


Teresa H. Sadler