Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy Joint Awards 2010
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Integrating the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) capabilities in genomic sequencing and analysis for production of biofuels with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) long experience in crop improvement, DOE and USDA are working together to fund projects that accelerate plant breeding programs and improve bioenergy feedstocks. Investigators in these projects are characterizing the genes, proteins, and molecular interactions that influence lignocellulosic biomass production. Significant advances in breeding, molecular genetics, and genomic technologies provide an opportunity to build upon the existing knowledgebase of plant biology to be able to confidently predict and manipulate their biological function for bioenergy resources. Specific areas of interest include:
- Elucidation of the regulation of gene networks, proteins, and metabolites
- To improve plant feedstock productivity, sustainability, water use efficiency, and nutrient utilization.
- To advance understanding of carbon partitioning and nutrient cycling in plant feedstocks.
- Comparative approaches to enhance fundamental knowledge of the structure, function, and organization of plant genomes leading to innova-tive strategies for feedstock characterization, breeding, or manipulation.
Since 2006, dozens of projects have been funded by the DOE-USDA Plant Feedstock Genomics program, which is jointly supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within DOE’s Office of Science and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (formerly the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service). To advance the fundamental understanding of lignocellulosic biomass accumulation and other crop traits relevant to biofuel production, several plants have been investigated with support from this program. These include poplar (Populus trichocarpa), switchgrass, the model grass Brachypodium distachyon, Miscanthus, foxtail millet, rice, sorghum, alfalfa, sunflower, and maize.