If we want to minimize the effects of global heating, then we need to pull millions of tons of carbon dioxide out of the air. While capture technology is one potential way to suck up carbon, researchers at California’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies are taking a less mechanical approach and developing a super plant that can store excess carbon dioxide in its roots.

By influencing the genes that control root size and production of a substance called suberin, the team hopes to create a plant with an expanded, more robust root system. This Ideal Plant, as they call it, would stockpile carbon in a form that resists decomposition, for optimum carbon storage in the ground. Salk is testing the idea on Arabidopsis, a plant similar to mustard cress, which reproduces quickly and produces identical seeds, making it useful for research purposes. According to Salk, this plant-based approach to climate change has the potential to achieve a 20 to 46 percent reduction in the excess carbon dioxide emissions produced each year by human activity.

The five professors working on the Ideal Plant hope to have a prototype within five years and are looking to roll out the project on a large scale within a decade. It goes without saying that we’re a big fan of this green approach to sequestering carbon.