FUNDING: Early Career Research Program
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science (SC) announces the release of the FY-2023 Early Career Research Program (ECRP) Funding Opportunity: DE-FOA-0002821. This opportunity includes the following BER Biological System Science research topics:
(1) Genomics-Enabled Plant Biology for the Determination of Gene Function: This area requests applications that employ integrative systems biology and high throughput approaches to elucidate and validate the functional roles of genes, gene families, and associated pathways related to physiological and metabolic processes such as photosynthetic efficiency; CO2 sequestration and belowground storage; nutrient and water use efficiency; tolerance and/or resistance to abiotic stresses such as drought and temperature extremes; developmental processes critical for enhanced biomass yield and optimization or extension of growth range; and metabolism of oils and fatty acids with potential uses as biofuels and bioproducts. Relevant research topics include but are not limited to: (i) comprehensive investigations of regulatory elements and mechanisms (e.g., transcription factors, cis-regulatory regions, enhancers, insulators, epigenetic regulation, alternative splicing mechanisms, etc.) to validate regulation of gene expression; (ii) approaches to functionally understand gene families to elucidate regulatory differences among members, sub-functionalization, and functional divergence, particularly in large gene families and polyploid genomes; and/or (iii) dissection of multigene traits (e.g., yield) into its genetic components and characterization and validation of their molecular genetic functions to understand their phenotypic impacts. Research on model plants should be kept to a minimum and the main focuses of the applications should be on potential or emerging bioenergy crops, including but not limited to switchgrass, poplar, Miscanthus, eucalyptus, sorghum, energy cane, and non-food oilseed crops. Applications should focus on accelerating experimental plant gene function discovery and validation. Innovative combinations of experimental and computational approaches, as well as the integration of systems biology, biochemical, and physiological methods to develop high-throughput systems for gene function determination are encouraged.
(2) Plant Biosystems Design for the Production of Bioenergy, Bioproducts, and Biomaterials Under Abiotic Stress: Applications are requested for integrative studies to engineer plant systems to achieve sustainable production of biofuels, bioproducts, and biomaterials; substantially improve bioenergy crop performance in marginal environments that are under water, nutrient, temperature, and/or other abiotic stresses; and/or increase biomass yield while making it more amenable to deconstruction and conversion into desirable chemicals. Relevant goals for crop design and engineering include but are not limited to: (i) increasing abiotic stress tolerance, (ii) achieving higher water and/or nutrient use efficiency, (iii) improving photosynthetic capacity and/or carbon dioxide sequestration, (iv) facilitating cell wall deconstruction and subsequent conversion to advanced biofuels and bioproducts, and/or (v) engineering the production of bioproducts or biomaterials. Proposed research should include innovative technologies for the introduction and expression of large, stable, multigene DNA constructs, genome-wide editing and recombineering, and high-throughput phenotyping, supported by computational approaches for modeling and design. Epigenetic engineering approaches to attain programable and tunable gene expression across the genome are encouraged. Research on model plants should be kept to a minimum and the main focuses of the applications should be on potential or emerging bioenergy crops, including but not limited to switchgrass, poplar, Miscanthus, eucalyptus, sorghum, energy cane, and non-food oilseed crops. Applications should address biocontainment of the engineered organisms and consider potential unintended outcomes and biological escapes.