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USDA, DOE Award $8M in Joint Bioenergy Genomics Grants

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Departments of Energy and Agriculture have jointly awarded $8 million in new grants to fund seven genomics-based projects aiming to develop domestic renewable energy sources and biofuels, USDA and DOE said yesterday.

The funding through the DOE-USDA Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy program primarily supports studies focused on using genomics to increase the yield, quality, and adaptability of varieties of trees and grasses.

These three-year projects, which will aim to improve switchgrass, poplar, pine, and other plants, include five that received a total of $6.1 million from DOE's Office of Science and two that were awarded $2 million from USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

One award, to Jeffrey Dangl of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will provide $1.5 million for the use of genomics, genetics, and physiology to understand how endophytic bacteria alter plant growth and productivity, and whether they can be used in a predictable way to improve feedstock production.

University of Georgia investigator Katrien Devos received a $1.3 million grant to develop strategies for increasing frost tolerance in upland switchgrass and to study the potential of fungi to minimize cold stress.

University of Florida researcher Matias Kirst received $1 million to use genome-wide selection to try to speed development of loblolly and slash pines, with the aim of making them produce higher yields for energy use.

The full list of the USDA-DOE awards is available on the DOE's website.