Photosynthetic assimilation of atmospheric carbon dioxide by land plants offers the underpinnings for terrestrial carbon (C) sequestration. A proportion of the C captured in plant biomass is partitioned to roots, where it enters the pools of soil organic C and soil inorganic C and can be sequestered for millennia. Bioenergy crops serve the dual role of providing biofuel that offsets fossil-fuel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sequestering C in the soil through extensive root systems. Carbon captured in plant biomass can also contribute to C sequestration through the deliberate addition of biochar to soil, wood burial, or the use of durable plant products. Increasing our understanding of plant, microbial, and soil biology, and harnessing the benefits of traditional genetics and genetic engineering, will help us fully realize the GHG mitigation potential of phytosequestration.
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