A grand challenge facing society is climate change caused mainly by rising CO2 concentration in Earth’s atmosphere. Terrestrial plants are linchpins in global carbon cycling, with a unique capability of capturing CO2 via photosynthesis and translocating captured carbon to stems, roots, and soils for long-term storage. However, many researchers postulate that existing land plants cannot meet the ambitious requirement for CO2 removal to mitigate climate change in the future due to low photosynthetic efficiency, limited carbon allocation for long-term storage, and low suitability for the bioeconomy. To address these limitations, there is an urgent need for genetic improvement of existing plants or construction of novel plant systems through biosystems design (or biodesign). Here, we summarize validated biological parts (e.g., protein-encoding genes and noncoding RNAs) for biological engineering of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) traits in terrestrial plants to accelerate land-based decarbonization in bioenergy plantations and agricultural settings and promote a vibrant bioeconomy. Specifically, we first summarize the framework of plant-based CDR (e.g., CO2 capture, translocation, storage, and conversion to value-added products). Then, we highlight some representative biological parts, with experimental evidence, in this framework. Finally, we discuss challenges and strategies for the identification and curation of biological parts for CDR engineering in plants.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The writing of this manuscript was supported by the Center for Bioenergy Innovation, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Research Center supported by the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program, and the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. DL acknowledges financial support through the National Science Foundation (NSF) under Award Number 1833402.
Copyright © 2021 Xiaohan Yang et al.