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University of Western Australia Lands A$26M for Plant Biology Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Australian Research Council has awarded A$26 million (US$23.2 million) to fund research programs at the Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (CoE PEB) at the University of Western Australia, in Perth, through 2020, the university said today.

The center is supported by an additional A$14 million pledge from a group of partners, including Agilent Technologies; Limagrain; Photon Systems Instruments; the Grain Research and Development Corporation; the Australian National University; the University of Adelaide; and La Trobe University; and UWA.

The CoE PEB's research is aimed at increasing the efficiency of plant-based energy and food sources and making crop plants more tolerant to environmental challenges.

"The plant energy system is the largest set of biochemical reactions on earth. We need it to build more food, feed, fiber, and fuel. To do that we need to understand how to make it more energy efficient in harsh environments," Professor Harvey Millar, the center's director, said in a statement.

The center's strategic priorities include plans to generate new plants that will benefit Australian agriculture, to create a dialogue about plant science between scientists, growers, and the public, to develop new biotechnology applications, and to recruit and train a new generation of plant biologists.

To support the center's research programs, the CoE PEB houses a molecular profiling lab that provides next-generation sequencing; a proteomics lab with four mass spectrometers and operates through alliances with Agilent Technologies and Bruker Biosciences; and metabolomics, transcriptomics, phenotyping, and informatics platforms.