Adaptation and ResilienceCarbon RemovalReducing Emissions

MIT Faculty and Researchers

Edward Boyden (lead), Matthew Shoulders (lead), Fábio Duarte, Claire Gorman, Robert Wilson

External Collaborators

George Church (Harvard University), Max Schubert (Harvard Medical School), Ahmed Badran (The Scripps Research Institute), Jesse Lou (Harvard Business School)

Research summary

The climate emergency is also an agriculture emergency. Climate change is predicted to drastically decrease crop productivity, creating food security issues and requiring expansion of agricultural land to meet rising demand. Such expansion, into over a billion hectares of wild habitat, would release hundreds of gigatons of additional CO2-equivalents over the next 30 years. We have identified two paths to improve the productivity and climate-resiliency of agriculture, combating these effects. First, fast-growing photosynthetic cyanobacteria could produce food using thousands of times less land, in a climate-resilient way. Are these microbes the climate-resistant food of the future? Second, can we rapidly improve the plant carbon fixation enzyme Rubisco, alleviating the climate sensitivity of crop plants, and improving yields as much as 50 percent? Our working group uses new advances in directed evolution to rapidly progress these two platforms and the synergy between them.

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