The US Department of Energy (DOE) has recently announced US$64 million in funding for 25 university-led genomics research projects on plants and microbes for bioenergy and bioproducts.
The plant research—12 projects totaling US$29 million over three years—focuses on expanding knowledge of gene function in plants to be grown for bioenergy and bioproducts. The aim is to pinpoint the connection between specific regions of plant genomes and particular plant traits so that features such as drought resistance and crop yield can be improved.
The microbe research—13 projects totaling US$35 million over three years—aims at better understanding of how communities of microbes cycle nutrients in the soil and the environment. The goal is to illuminate the critical role of microbes in shaping Earth’s environment. In the process, the research is expected to shed light on soil processes that could impact the growth of potential bioenergy crops.
We are entering an era when genomics is giving us ever greater understanding of what controls biological systems. This research will help us improve crops grown for bioenergy and bioproducts while at the same time deepening our knowledge of complex and interacting biological processes within specific environmental systems, said Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar.
Most projects are collaborations involving researchers from several institutions; many include one or more DOE national laboratories as partners.
Projects were selected by competitive peer review under two DOE Funding Opportunity Announcements, “Genome-Enabled Plant Biology for Determination of Gene Function” and “Systems Biology Enabled Research on the Roles of Microbiomes in Nutrient Cycling,” sponsored by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the Department’s Office of Science.
Fiscal Year 2019 funding for the two efforts totals US$25.4 million, with out-year funding contingent on congressional appropriations.