Researchers are getting creative as it comes to plants and enhancing their carbon sequestration abilities. A team of scientists is working on a five-year, $6.2 million project that aims to develop sorghum plants’ carbon capture potential.
Nadia Shakoor – a senior research scientist at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the Salk Institute’s Harnessing Plant Initiative will be collaborating on the project. The research could optimize the ability of crop plants to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the ground for long periods.
“Our research community has the opportunity to use cutting-edge science and innovation to help change the course of climate change…Sorghum is an incredible plant that holds great promise as a carbon-sequestering crop,” said Dr. Shakoor.
She also added that sorghum’s carbon capture abilities combined with its drought tolerance could be a solution for future food security resiliency while mitigating negative climate impacts.
Almost 7 million acres of sorghum were planted in the US in 2020 by farmers. The researchers developed sensors to monitor plants’ environments and growth in real-time. The goal of the project is also to identify varieties of sorghum that have the traits needed to optimize carbon capture. One such trait is large, deep root systems to store and move carbon into the surrounding soil.
Other professors working with Dr. Shakoor is Todd Michael – a researcher from the Harnessing Plant Initiative, and his colleagues at the Salk Institute. They will analyze the material and collaborate with Dr. Shakoor to identify sorghum lines to select and breed.
The natural carbon sinks research and further carbon capture investments could shed light on key traits that could be enhanced in plants for carbon capture from the air and soil carbon sequestration. More projects examining and developing natural solutions to climate change are important for the world to make better-informed decisions on critical issues like mitigating global warming.