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USDA to Provide $9.4M for Specialty Crop Genomics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Nine universities will use funds from the US Department of Agriculture to conduct genomic studies on a variety of specialty crops aimed at improving the quality, yield, and traits of the crops, the USDA said Tuesday.
The $9.4 million, funded through the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, will support research into the genomics of sunflower, black cherry, peach, strawberry, apple, lettuce, potato, and tomato.
Under USDA’s National Research Initiative Plant Genome Program, scientists at the universities will use the money to study specialty crops in a program that augments the Specialty Crop Research Initiative started by the 2008 Farm Bill.
"These grants will create new knowledge, information, genomic resources and seeds that may improve fruit quality, yield, drought tolerance and disease resistance in specialty crops," said USDA Chief Scientist Gale Buchanan.
The aim of the plant program is to generate knowledge about the structure, function, and organization of plant genomes in order to improve crop sustainability, efficiency, and breeding, USDA said. The agency also expects this research to create new “educational, training, and extension avenues for students and the public in the area of fruit and vegetable crop sciences,” Buchanan said.
Under the program, the University of Arizona will receive $319,000; the University of California-Davis will receive a $362,500 grant and a $400,000 grant; the University of Georgia will receive two $400,000 grants; Michigan State University will receive one $5.4 million grant and a $400,000 grant; the University of New Hampshire will receive $383,000; Pennsylvania State University will receive $362,500; Virginia Tech will receive $400,000, and Washington State University will receive grants of $400,000 and $150,000.
MSU’s grant of $5.4 million is a Coordinated Agricultural Project award for studying specialty potatoes and tomatoes. 
More information may be found here.

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