US funding research to develop bioenergy crops

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced US$64 million in funding over three years for 25 university-led genomics research projects on plants and microbes for bioenergy and bioproducts. Fiscal Year 2019 funding for the projects totals US$25.4 million.

The plant research (12 projects totalling US$29 million) 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 totalling US$35 million) aims at better understanding of how communities of microbes cycle nutrients in soil and the environment. In the process, the research is expected to shed light on soil processes that could impact the growth of potential bioenergy crops.

Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar said “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.”

Most of the 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.

AcuComm’s WasteView database currently lists 130 active bioenergy projects which utilise non-waste plant biomass as feedstock, worth a total of US$13.0 billion or just under US$100 million each on average. Click here to explore them all.


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