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US DOE announces $68m fund for bioenergy crops research

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $68 million (€57.8 million) in funding over five years for research aimed at making bioenergy feedstock crops more productive and resilient.

The research will cover several common bioenergy feedstocks, including sorghum, pennycress, and poplar. The focus will be on the complex interactions between crops, soil, and soil microbes that impact productivity and stress resistance. The research will combine controlled field studies with computational modelling.

Dr Chris Fall, director of the DOE’s Office of Science, said: “One key requirement for sustainable bioenergy production is feedstock crops that can be grown on marginal lands that are not traditionally suitable for growing food.

“This research will help us understand the molecular mechanisms that lead to crops with greater productivity and survivability in stressful environments.”

Projects were chosen by competitive peer review, under a DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement for Systems Biology Research to Advance Sustainable Bioenergy Crop Development, sponsored by the Office of Biological for Environmental Research within the DOE’s Office of Science.

The total funding is $68 million (€57.8 million) for projects lasting for five years, with $13 million (€11 million) in Fiscal Year 2020 dollars and out-year funding contingent on congressional appropriations.