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2007 Awards



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USDA and DOE Award 11 Grants for Biomass Genomics Research

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative* have jointly selected 11 projects for awards totaling $8.3 million for biobased-fuel research. These awards continue a commitment begun in 2006 to conduct fundamental research in biomass genomics that will establish a scientific foundation to facilitate and accelerate the use of woody plant tissue for bioenergy and biofuel.

June 7, 2007 Press Release

2007 Awards

Starting in 2007, DOE will provide $5.5 million in funding for seven projects, while USDA will award more than $1.5 million to fund three projects, one of which will receive $1.3 million in funding from both agencies. Initial funding is for up to 3 years.

"Towards a Map of the Populus Biomass Protein-Protein Interaction Network"

  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, $1,200,000 for 36 months
  • Principal Investigator: Eric Beers
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Amy Brunner, Allan Dickerman

Project Goal: Map protein-protein interactions relevant to biomass production by focusing on proteins coexpressed in poplar xylem, site of the majority of lignocellulose synthesis and hence biomass accumulation in poplar.

"Developing Association Mapping in Polyploid Perennial Biofuel Grasses"

  • USDA-Agricultural Research Service (Cornell University), $700,000 for 36 months
  • Principal Investigator: Ed Buckler
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Jerry Cherney, Michael Casler (USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Wisconsin)

Project Goal: Undertake an association-mapping study of two important biofuel grasses, switchgrass and reed canarygrass, to identify molecular markers tightly linked to biomass-related trait loci. This will enable marker-assisted selection and greatly accelerate breeding programs for enhanced biomass production.

"Analysis of Small RNAs and mRNAs Associated with Abiotic Stress Responses in Brachypodium distachyon"

  • University of Delaware, $600,000 for 36 months
  • Principal Investigator: Pam Green

Project Goal: Identify small RNAs related to stresses such as drought, temperature, and nutrient deprivation and relate them to the emerging genome sequence of Brachypodium distachyon, thus enhancing its value as a functional genomic model for energy crops and temperate grasses.

"Linkage Analysis Appropriate for Comparative Genome Analysis and Trait Selection in Switchgrass"

  • USDA - Agricultural Research Service (Western Regional Research Center), $600,000 for 36 months
  • Principal Investigator: Christian Tobias
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Rongling Wu (University of Florida), Joe Bouton (Noble Foundation), Malay Saha (Noble Foundation)

Project Goal: Create a comprehensive marker set for switchgrass based principally on simple sequence repeats, and initiate development of a linkage map.

"Genetic Dissection of Bioenergy Traits in Sorghum"

  • University of Florida, $750,000 for 36 months
  • Principal Investigator: Wilfred Vermerris
  • Co-Principal Investigators: S. Kresovich, S. Murray, J. Pedersen, W. Rooney, Z. Xin, S. Sattler (Cornell University, Texas A&M University, USDA-ARS)

Project Goal: Maximize the amount of fermentable sugar in the whole sorghum plant by identifying and isolating genes that control the high stalk juice sugar trait and a decreased stalk lignin trait, with the aim of eventually combining both traits in a single germplasm. (Updated December 2008)

"Insertional Mutagenesis of Brachypodium distachyon"

  • Agricultural Research Service (Western Regional Research Center), $600,000 for 36 months
  • Principal Investigator: John Vogel
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Yong Gu, Gerard Lazo, Olin Anderson

Project Goal: Create a collection of insertional mutants in Brachypodium distachyon. This resource collection can then be used to identify mutations in genes predicted to affect biomass quality and agronomic characteristics of other perennial grass energy crops.

"A Functional Genomics Approach to Altering Crown Architecture in Populus: Maximizing Carbon Capture in Trees Grown in Dense Plantings"

  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory, $1,040,000 for 36 months
  • Principal Investigator: Jerry Tuskan
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Udaya Kalluri, Stan Wullschleger, Glenn Howe (Oregon State University), Stephen DiFazio (West Virginia University), Gancho Slavov (West Virginia University)

Project Goal: Gain a molecular understanding of phytochrome-mediated responses to competition in Populus and then use that knowledge to maximize carbon capture per unit of land area for increased biomass production.

"Identification of Cell Wall Synthesis Regulatory Genes Controlling Biomass Characteristics and Yield in Rice (Oryza sativa)"

  • Mississippi State University, $1,300,000 for 36 months
  • Principal Investigator: Zhaohua Peng
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Pamela Ronald (University of California, Davis), Guo-Liang Wang (Ohio State University)

Project Goal: Examine cell-wall synthesis in rice, a model grass bioenergy species and the source of rice stover residues, using reverse genetic and functional genomic and proteomic approaches.

"Development of Genomic Tools to Improve Prairie Cordgrass (Spartina pectinata), a Highly Productive Bioenergy Feedstock Crop"

  • South Dakota State University, $420,000 for 24 months
  • Principal Investigator: Jose Gonzalez
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Arvid Boe, XingYou Gu, Vance Owens

Project Goal: Develop PCR markers for this species and to construct an initial linkage map for prairie cordgrass, a native perennial high-biomass–yielding grass.

"Resource Development in Switchgrass, an Important Bioenergy Crop for the U.S.A."

  • University of Georgia, $400,000 for 36 months
  • Principal Investigator: Katrien Devos
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Jeff Bennetzen, Charles Brummer, Joe Bouton (Noble Foundation), and Malay Saha (Noble Foundation)

Project Goal: Construct a detailed genetic map of switchgrass based on simple sequence repeats, and align it with maps produced in rice, maize, and sorghum. This will allow the exploitation of resources and sequence information generated for these well-studied cereals. The genetic maps also will serve as a framework for locating genes that control bioenergy traits.

"Strategies for Using Molecular Markers to Simultaneously Improve Corn Grain Yield and Stover Quality for Ethanol Production"

  • University of Minnesota, $715,000 for 36 months
  • Principal Investigator: Rex Bernardo
  • Co-Principal Investigators: Hans-Joachim Jung (USDA-Agricultural Research Service)

Project Goal: Optimize the use of DNA markers to simultaneously breed for high corn grain yield (for nonenergy and energy uses) and high stover quality for ethanol production.

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*formerly the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), National Research Initiative


Genomics-Enabled Plant Biology for Determination of Gene Function Summaries of Projects Awarded by Year

Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy [01/19]

Lignocellulosic Biomass for Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts: Workshop Report [2/15]

Sustainable Bioenergy [05/14]

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