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US Department of Energy to fund research to develop bioenergy crops

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) has committed $64 million (€57.4 million) in funding for 25 university-led genomics research projects for bioenergy and bioproducts.

The plant research will focus on expanding knowledge of gene function in plants which are grown for bioenergy and bioproducts. The aim is to pinpoint the connection between specific regions of plant genomes and specific plant traits. It is hoped this could improve features such as drought resistance and crop yield.

According to a press release by DOE, the plant research will be undertaken by 12 projects with a $29 million (€26 million) investment over three years, and the microbe research via 13 projects with an investment of $35 million (€31.4 million).

It is hoped that the microbe research will provide a greater understanding of how communities of microbes cycle nutrients in soil and the environment, according to DOE. The aim is to highlight the critical role of microbes in shaping the environment.

Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar said: “We are entering an era when genomics is giving us ever greater understanding of what controls biological systems. This research will help us improve crops grown for bioenergy and bioproducts while at the same time deepening our knowledge of complex and interacting biological processes within specific environmental systems.”