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DOE, USDA to Offer Funds for Biomass Genomics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Department of Energy and the US Department of Agriculture have jointly issued a funding opportunity announcement aimed at researchers working on biomass genomics projects.

The departments expect to award up to $6 million to multiple projects in fiscal year 2012, contingent on the availability of appropriated funds.

DOE and USDA expend to fund research on plants with the aim of improving biomass characteristics, biomass yield, or sustainability. They also are encouraging researchers using systems biology approaches to identify genetic indicators that would enable plants to be efficiently bred or manipulated to apply for funding. Other research could focus on predicting phenotype from underlying genotype in an effort to improve feedstock characterization and sustainability.

The funding opportunity announcement builds on a commitment initiated in 2006 to conduct fundamental research in biomass genomics to facilitate the use of lignocellulosic materials for bioenergy and biofuels.

"Significant advances in breeding, molecular genetics, and genomic technologies provide an opportunity to build upon the existing knowledgebase of plant biology to be able to confidently predict and manipulate their biological function for bioenergy resources," DOE and USDA said in the funding announcement.

The departments are specifically interested in research that phenotypes plant germplasm collections and advanced breeding lines in public breeding programs of bioenergy crops to discover and deploy alleles for bioenergy traits, such as biomass yield, quantity, and quality of key metabolites, and adaptation to temperature extremes, drought, salinity, and nitrogen use efficiency.

The pre-application due date is Dec. 16, 4:30 pm EST, and the application due date is Feb. 24, 2012, 11:59 pm EST.

Applicants may request project support for up to three years. The departments said they expect annual budgets to range from $200,000 to $500,000 in total costs.

The funding announcement can be found here.

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