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US Energy Department Provides $30M for Sorghum Crop Development

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The US Department of Energy today announced $30 million in funding to six projects to develop better sorghum crops though the use of genetic and other technologies. 

The funding is directed at the development of better varieties of sorghum through improved plant remote sensing, analysis, and breeding methods. It is being provided through DOE's Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA) program, which leverages agriculture, information technology, and engineering to develop crops that are sustainable and affordable and yield abundant feedstocks for bioenergy. 

The recipients of the TERRA funds seek to address limitations associated with crop phenotyping and genotyping by developing mobile platforms with sensory systems to observe and record plant characteristics, DOE said. They will also develop algorithms to analyze data and predict plant growth potential. 

The TERRA program will also fund the creation of a large database comprising sorghum genotypes and field phenotypes, which DOE said will allow the larger community of plant physiologists, bioinformaticians, and geneticists to improve sorghum and bioenergy crops. 

The TERRA grant recipients include researchers from Clemson University ($6 million); Donald Danforth Plant Science Center ($8 million); Pacific Northwest National Laboratory ($3.3 million); Purdue University ($6.5 million); Texas A&M AgriLife Research ($3.1 million); and the University ofIllinois at Urbana-Champaign ($3.1 million).