Plant Biosystmes Design for a Carbon-Neutral Bioeconomy
Udaya C. Kalluri, Xiaohan Yang, and Stan. D. Wullschleger
11 June 2020, BioDesign Research Vol 2020, Article ID 7914051; doi: 10.34133/2020/7914051
Our society faces multiple daunting challenges including finding sustainable solutions towards climate change mitigation; efficient production of food, biofuels, and biomaterials; maximizing land-use efficiency; and enabling a sustainable bioeconomy. Plants can provide environmentally and economically sustainable solutions to these challenges due to their inherent capabilities for photosynthetic capture of atmospheric CO2, allocation of carbon to various organs and partitioning into various chemical forms, including contributions to total soil carbon. In order to enhance crop productivity and optimize chemistry simultaneously in the above- and belowground plant tissues, transformative biosystems design strategies are needed. Concerted research efforts will be required for accelerating the development of plant cultivars, genotypes, or varieties that are cooptimized in the contexts of biomass-derived fuels and/or materials aboveground and enhanced carbon sequestration belowground. Here, we briefly discuss significant knowledge gaps in our process understanding and the potential of synthetic biology in enabling advancements along the fundamental to applied research arc. Ultimately, a convergence of perspectives from academic, industrial, government, and consumer sectors will be needed to realize the potential merits of plant biosystems design for a carbon neutral bioeconomy.