Decreasing carbon in the atmosphere is an important means to
combatclimate change. Forest carbon drawdown is a specific way to
achieve this, but the method is hindered by land-use efficiency,
suitability of the land to support forests, tree growth rate, and the
duration of carbon storage until it is released back into the
atmosphere. To speed up the process, researchers in California, USA
developedgenetic engineeredpoplar trees that can improve carbon capture
by enhancing photosynthesis and also improve carbon storage through
decay-resistant wood that slowly releases carbon through decomposition.
Photosynthesis in the GE treeswas enhanced by photorespiration bypass
pathway that allowed more energy to go into tree growth and increases
both biomass accumulation and carbon assimilation. Moreover, it allows
the trees' chloroplast to break down waste products internally and turn
them into glucose and cellulose. The GE trees were tested using an
initial 41 independent events that were developed using transformation.
These were narrowed down to 38 independents after going through an
initial evaluation and were then transferred into a greenhouse facility
for further observation.
The findings indicated that the GE trees have reduced the expression of
genes responsible for the transport of toxic byproducts of
photorespiration out of the chloroplast. The GE trees also showed an
increase in plant height, stem volume growth, and biomass accumulation.
Biomass accumulation is a strong indicator of carbon assimilation, as
half of biomass is stored carbon. These results support the claim that
developing GE trees with enhanced photosynthesis is a promising strategy
to improve forest carbon drawdown and help fight climate change.