USDA, DOE pick projects for $8.3 million in Biomass genomics grants

The USDA and the DOE announced the 2007 Biomass Genomics grants yesterday. The awards are worth $8.3 million this year (last year they gave out $5.7 million) to eleven projects that will study how to better make biofuels from rice and switchgrass, get more yield from corn, and a lot more that's just a wee bit scientific ("Analysis of Small RNAs and miRNAs Associated with Abiotic Stress Responses in Brachypodium distachyon" anyone?). The DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research (OBER) and the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) are responsible for handling the awards.

The funded projects are:
  • "Strategies for Using Molecular Markers to Simultaneously Improve Corn Grain Yield and Stover Quality for Ethanol Production," University of Minnesota, $715,000
  • "Development of Genomic Tools to Improve of Prairie Cordgrass (Spartina pectinata), a Highly Productive Bioenergy Feedstock Crop," South Dakota State University, $420,000
  • "Identification of Cell Wall Synthesis Regulatory Genes Controlling Biomass Characteristics and Yield in Rice (Oryza sativa)," Mississippi State University, $1,300,000
  • "Resource Development in Switchgrass, An Important Bioenergy Crop for the USA," University of Georgia, $400,000
  • "Towards a Map of the Populus Biomass Protein-Protein Interaction Network," Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, $1,200,000
  • "Development of Brown Midrib Sweet Sorghum as a Dual-Source Feedstock for Ethanol Production," University of Florida, $750,000
  • "Analysis of Small RNAs and miRNAs Associated with Abiotic Stress Responses in Brachypodium distachyon," University of Delaware, $600,000
  • "Linkage Analysis Appropriate for Comparative Genome Analysis and Trait Selection in Switchgrass," and "Insertional Mutagenesis of Brachypodium distachyon" USDA-ARS Western Regional Research Center (Albany, CA), $600,000 each
  • "Developing Association Mapping in Polyploid Perennial Biofuel Grasses," USDA-ARS (Cornell University), $700,000
  • "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
That's the future of biofuels in the U.S., according to the feds. More detail on these projects can be found here.

[Source: USDA]

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