Research to focus on genetics and the physiological mechanisms that influence plant productivity, usage of resources and resistance to environmental stress
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to provide up to $75m over five years in research funding for the development of sustainable bioenergy crops which are tolerant and resilient to environmental stresses and changes.
Research should focus on better understanding the genetics and the physiological mechanisms that influence plant productivity, usage of resources and resistance to environmental stress, among other factors.
DOE said that researchers could take advantage of advanced tools and techniques such as genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics.
They are also encouraged to draw on the department’s resources, wherever possible such as the DOE Joint Genome Institute at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the supercomputing centres at the DOE national laboratories.
Funding will range between $1m and $3m per year
The funding will be offered on a competitive basis and based on peer review. The research is expected to be in the form of five-year grants of between $1m and $3m per year, beginning with the current fiscal year.
DOE under secretary for science Paul Dabbar said: “With this research, the US will lead the way in laying the agricultural foundation for the emerging bio-economy.
“It’s critical for crops grown for bioenergy and bioproducts to be able to survive and thrive under marginal growing conditions and maintain resiliency to environmental stresses and changes to avoid competing with food production.”
In October 2019, the department had selected 35 projects totalling $73m for bioenergy research and development.
The projects were supported so they can help work to reduce the price of biofuels, lowering the cost of biopower and to produce high-value products from biomass or waste resources.
Back then, the department also stated the US has the potential to produce one billion dry tonnes of non-food biomass without disrupting agricultural markets for food and animal feed.
Underutilised resources could be put to use to produce 50 billion gallons of biofuels, which is 25% of US transportation fuels, 50 billion pounds of high-value chemicals and products, and 75 billion kWh of electricity, which is enough to power seven million homes.