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Increasing Carbon Drawdown and Retention in Terrestrial Biomass using Bioengineered Trees

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: ARPA-E
Contract: DE-AR0001491
Agency Tracking Number: 1954-1783
Amount: $187,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: T
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0001954
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-08-10
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-08-09
Small Business Information
1458 San Bruno Avenue A1
San Francisco, CA 94114
United States
DUNS: 117668168
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Yumin Tao
 (515) 988-8379
Business Contact
 Madeline Hall
Phone: (206) 419-1893
Research Institution

Carbon drawdown and retention in terrestrial biomass is currently limited by the rate of
photosynthetic assimilation and of decay of lignocellulosic biomass respectively. Living Carbon
is developing innovative methods of reducing the susceptibility of vegetative biomass to decay
by lignotrophic fungi, thereby reducing the rate of release of carbon dioxide back to the
atmosphere through fungal respiration. Our trees gain resistance to fungal decay through the
absorption of small quantities of nickel and copper from the soil and deposition of these metals
in xylem (wood) tissue as the tree grows, a mechanism with demonstrated efficacy in wild
conifer forests in boreal regions, where soil acidity encourages the dissolution of metals in water
which is taken up by trees. If these results translate at scale, our trees will provide improved
carbon drawdown in the gigaton range when planted in managed forests, and will produce wood
with enhanced decay resistance, reducing the need for pressure treatment in light duty outdoor
applications, while helping to reduce excessive metal concentrations in polluted soils. We
participated in the Y Combinator incubator program last year and have raised significant in
funding from venture capital sources, which has enabled us to demonstrate growth rate increases
from our photosynthesis enhanced trees, produce nickel tolerant poplar seedlings expressing
nickel transporters, and characterize the genes responsible for copper accumulation in Larrea
tridentata (creosote bush). We envisage the creation of a new category of restorative synthetic
biology, uniting carbon drawdown and retention, ecological restoration, and added value for
landowners and timber producers.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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