Funding kicks off a new era in climate research at the IGI
A gift of $3 million dollars from an anonymous donor to the Innovative Genomics Institute is kick-starting the next generation of climate change research at IGI. To date, IGI’s climate change work has mostly focused on using genome engineering to help agriculture adapt to a changing climate. Building on that strategy, this gift provides initial funding to a series of new IGI projects that are aimed at developing scalable nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change.
“While we have viable solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for many sectors, agriculture stands out as a glaring exception, and it accounts for nearly a quarter of all global emissions. Plants and microbes can be part of the solution, versus part of the problem, and genome engineering can help make this scale to meet the size of the challenge,” says IGI Executive Director Brad Ringeisen.
Four projects will receive crucial seed funding from this gift:
- Dave Savage, UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Biochemistry, is using CRISPR genetic screens and gene editing to optimize photosynthesis in crop plants for increased food yield and enhanced carbon capture.
- Brian Staskawicz, IGI’s Sustainable Agriculture Director and Professor of Plant and Microbial Biology at UC Berkeley, is collaborating with researchers at IGI’s Plant Genomics and Transformation Facility on gene stacking in rice to reduce pesticides and fertilizers. They are also using gene editing to develop drought-tolerant plants.
- Pam Ronald, UC Davis Professor of Plant Pathology, is investigating the effect of rice root system architecture on microbes that could reduce methane emissions.
- Jill Banfield, IGI’s Microbiology Director and Professor of Earth and Planetary Science and Environmental Science, Policy, & Management at UC Berkeley, is doing genomic and chemical analysis of the soil microbiome of rice paddies, with the ultimate aim of optimizing more long-term carbon storage in the soil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Together, these projects aim to realize a vision of a net-zero farm that maintains food security with reduced input from farmers and greenhouse gas emissions, and use farming to capture and store more carbon from the atmosphere.
Learn more about current efforts to use genome editing technology to fight climate change in a discussion with IGI Executive Director Brad Ringeisen and Director of Public Impact Melinda Kliegman hosted by the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy on Tue, July 27, 2021, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PDT. Register here (Free)