November 16, 2020

Bezos Earth Fund donates $30 million to Salk Institute for
innovative climate change research

Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative is enhancing plants to capture and store more carbon to offset climate change

Salk News


Bezos Earth Fund donates $30 million to Salk Institute for innovative climate change research

Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative is enhancing plants to capture and store more carbon to offset climate change

Salk Ideal Plants
The Salk Institute’s Harnessing Plants Initiative (HPI) is an innovative, scalable and bold approach to fight climate change by optimizing a plant’s natural ability to capture and store carbon and adapt to diverse climate conditions.

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Credit: Salk Institute

LA JOLLA—Salk’s Harnessing Plants Initiative (HPI) will receive $30 million from the Bezos Earth Fund to advance efforts to increase the ability of crop plants, such as corn and soybeans, to capture and store atmospheric carbon via their roots in the soil. This work will explore carbon-sequestration mechanisms in six of the world’s most prevalent crop species with the goal of increasing the plants’ carbon-storage capacity. It complements an ongoing HPI project focused on identifying genes for increased carbon sequestration in model plants and then utilizing those genes to enhance carbon sequestration in crops.

“The Bezos Earth Fund’s generous donation will help realize an exciting new HPI research program that significantly increases our scientific efforts towards the ultimate goal of utilizing crop plants to mitigate the effects of climate change,” says Salk President and Professor Rusty Gage.

Harnessing Plants Initiative leadership team
The Harnessing Plants Initiative leadership team. From top left: Wolfgang Busch, Joanne Chory and Joseph Ecker. From bottom left: Julie Law, Todd Michael and Joseph Noel.

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Credit: Salk Institute

Plants have immense potential to remove excess carbon from Earth’s atmosphere to help respond to our warming planet. The Bezos Earth Fund grant will enable Salk scientists to advance work in plant genetics, genomics, and biochemistry—and use the power of plant diversity—to develop global crops that will increase the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere and store it deep in the earth’s soil. Members of the HPI leadership team include Salk faculty members Wolfgang Busch, Joanne ChoryJoseph EckerJulie Law, Todd Michael and Joseph Noel.

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Every cure has a starting point. The Salk Institute embodies Jonas Salk’s mission to dare to make dreams into reality. Its internationally renowned and award-winning scientists explore the very foundations of life, seeking new understandings in neuroscience, genetics, immunology, plant biology and more. The Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark: small by choice, intimate by nature and fearless in the face of any challenge. Be it cancer or Alzheimer’s, aging or diabetes, Salk is where cures begin.