NEW YORK, Sept. 21 – The US Department of Energy has granted Orion Genomics, NC+ Hybrids, and SolviGen a five-year, $7.5 million matching grant to improve sorghum and to develop new products, including biofuels such as ethanol, organic acids, and other carbon molecules for industrial use, the recipients of the grant said.
Orion, a St. Louis, Missouri-based agricultural research company, will sequence the sorghum genome and will identify genes that contribute to the production of starch and sugars. The company will also use its GeneThresher technology to discover genes and their function.
NC+ Hybrids of Lincoln, Nebraska, will contribute its seed breeding expertise and collection of germplasm, while Missouri’s SolviGen will contribute its marketing expertise.
"Understanding sorghum genes and breeding enhanced sorghum hybrids will allow expanded use of sorghum as a renewable resource," Jim Osborne, sorghum research director at NC+ Hybrids, said in a statement.
“Sorghum is a very water-efficient, drought-tolerant crop, which grows well on drier land, and is currently used to produce millions of gallons of ethanol each year. If successful, this research could eventually reduce the cost of producing ethanol from grain sorghum by 40% or more,” he added.
The grant is subject to Congressional approval.