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Genomic Science Program

Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy



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USDA and DOE Fund Five New Projects in 2016 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 seven projects for awards totaling $7.8 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.

2016 Awards

In 2016, DOE will provide nearly $5.8 million in funding over 3 years, while USDA will award $2 million over 3 years.

Development of Resources and Tools to Improve Oil Content and Quality in Pennycress

  • Ana Alonso, Ohio State University, Columbus
  • DOE BER– funded project

Goal: To develop pennycress (Thlaspi arvense), a member of the Brassicaceae, as a bioenergy crop, taking advantage of its ability to produce seed oil that is ideally suited as a renewable source of biodiesel and aviation fuel. In this project, pennycress' natural variation will be investigated to identify candidate genes and biomarkers associated with oil accumulation and fatty acid composition as well as metabolic engineering targets for improving oil content and composition. A public seed collection of pennycress mutants and transgenic lines will be developed as a community resource for accelerating research.

Developing Non-food Grade Brassica Biofuel Feedstock Cultivars with High Yield, Oil Content, and Oil Quality Suitable for Low Input Production Dryland Systems

  • Jack Brown, University of Idaho, Moscow
  • DOE BER– funded project

Goal:To develop oilseed Brassica cultivars with higher seed and oil yield, high oil quality, blackleg resistance, and low input costs. Novel genes for resistance to blackleg disease will be identified, and molecular marker assisted selection tools will be developed to accelerate Brassica breeding. Putative pattern recognition receptor (PRR) resistance genes so identified will be introgressed into adapted cultivar backgrounds to develop superior non-food grade oilseed cultivars with durable resistance, suitable for the Pacific Northwest and other U.S. regions.

Genomics and Phenomics to Identify Yield and Drought Tolerance Alleles for Improvement of Camelina as a Biofuel Crop

  • John Dyer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Maricopa, AZ
  • USDA NIFA– funded project

Goal: Camelina sativa has received considerable attention as a potential nonfood biofuels crop, but significant challenges remain to develop stable, high-yielding, geographically adapted germplasm suitable for biofuels production. Advanced high-throughput phenotyping and genomics-based approaches will be used to discover useful gene/alleles controlling seed yield and oil content and quality in Camelina under water-limited conditions, and will identify high-yielding cultivars suitable for production in different geographical regions.

Genetics and Genomics of Pathogen Resistance in Switchgrass

  • Serge Edmé, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, NE
  • DOE BER– funded project

Goal: To provide the genetic, molecular, physiological, and transcriptomic bases for imparting durable rust and viral disease resistance to switchgrass. This project leverages the differential performance of lowland ('Kanlow', resistant) and upland ('Summer', susceptible) cultivars under fungal rust (Puccinia emaculata, Uromyces graminicola) and viral (Panicum mosaic virus) disease pressures. Genomic selection will be applied across three generations of a 'Summer' x 'Kanlow' breeding population to develop prediction models for yield and disease traits, which will facilitate pyramiding key genes into released cultivars for durable resistance and ultimately improve the bioenergy potential of switchgrass through breeding and selection.

Resistance to Stalk Pathogens for Bioenergy Sorghum

  • Deanna Funnell-Harris, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, NE
  • USDA NIFA– funded project

Goal: To discover host molecular pathways that enhance endophytic growth of stalk fungi and inhibit the developmental switch to pathogenic growth that frequently occurs under periods of prolonged abiotic stress in sorghum. Biomolecular markers for resistance will be identified that will significantly enhance efforts to develop superior bioenergy sorghum with resistance to increasing disease and environmental stresses.

Systems Biology to Improve Camelina Seed and Oil Quality Traits

  • Chaofu Lu, Montana State University, Bozeman
  • DOE BER– funded project

Goal: To increase Camelina seed size and oil content for improved seedling establishment and oil yield, and to optimize oil quality for satisfactory fuel properties. In this project, quantitative trait loci (QTLs) and molecular markers associated with these important traits will be identified using high-density genome maps and repeated field trials in Montana and Washington states. Modern genomics and biotechnological approaches will be employed to uncover novel molecular mechanisms (including genes and gene networks regulated by microRNAs and transcription factors) regulating fatty acid modification, oil accumulation and seed size in Camelina.

Introgression of Novel Disease Resistance Genes from Miscanthus into Energycane

  • Erik Sacks, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
  • DOE BER– funded project

Goal: To improve energycane productivity and sustainability by providing resistance to key diseases through introgression of novel genes from Miscanthus into a Saccharum background. In this project, F1 miscanes (Miscanthus x sugarcane) will be backcrossed to sugarcane several times, and molecular markers associated with the disease resistance will be identified. Genetics studies will be conducted to determine if the resistance is conferred by one or few genes of large effect, many genes of small effect, or a combination of both large and small effect genes, enabling an optimized marker-assisted selection strategy.

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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 Summary of Projects Awarded

Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy [01/19]

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

  • Genomics-Enabled Plant Biology for Determination of Gene Function DE-FOA-0002601 [12/16/21]
  • Systems Biology-Enabled Microbiome Research to Facilitate Predictions of Interactions and Behavior in the Environment DE-FOA-0002602 [12/15/21]
  • Biosystems Design to Enable Safe Production of Next-Generation Biofuels, Bioproducts, and Biomaterials DE-FOA-0002600 [12/13/21]
  • SBIR/STTR Funding Call for Climate, Energy and Scientific R&D DE-FOA-0002555 [12/13/21]
  • Quantum-Enabled Bioimaging and Sensing Approaches for Bioenergy DE-FOA-0002603 [11/15/21]
  • NAS Report: Quantum Science Concepts in Enhancing Sensing and Imaging Technologies: Applications for Biology. More »
  • JBEI's Jay Keasling named Office of Science Distinguished Scientist Fellow. More »
  • DOE BER Early Career Research Funding Opportunity Preapplications due Oct. 21. More »
  • Systems Biology of Bioenergy-Relevant Microbes Projects Awarded. [7/21] More »
  • BER Bioimaging Science Program announces new awards. [7/21] More »
  • DOE BER Request for Information – Responses due by 10- 31-21. More »
  • DOE BER Awards $45.5 Million [6/21] More »
  • More News and Announcements »

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