DOE announces $66 million for research on plants, microbes

By U.S. Department of Energy | February 14, 2019

On Feb. 12, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a plan to provide $66 million for new genomics-based research on plants and microbes. 

The $30 million plant initiative focuses on research and technological innovation aimed at expanding knowledge of gene function in plants to be grown for bioenergy and bioproducts.  The aim is to pinpoint the connection between specific regions of plant genomes and particular plant behaviors and traits.

The microbe initiative will provide $36 million for research on how communities of microbes cycle nutrients in soil and the environment.  The aim is both to better understand the critical role of microbes in shaping plant life and Earth’s environment as well as to gain new insights into soil processes impacting the growth and yield of potential bioenergy crops.

“The complex interactions of plants and microbes play a critical role in sustaining plant life on Earth,” said Sharlene Weatherwax, DOE associate director of science for biological and environmental research.  “Insights gained from this research will ultimately help us better understand and model the Earth system and may also enable us to improve the performance of crops grown for bioenergy.”

Applications will be open to universities, industry, and nonprofit research institutions as the lead institution, with collaborators at the DOE national laboratories and other federal agencies.  Funding is to be awarded competitively, on the basis of peer review, and is expected to be in the form of three-year grants, beginning in the current fiscal year.

Total planned funding is $66 million over three years, with outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.

The two DOE Funding Opportunity Announcements, along with companion laboratory calls, issued by DOE’s Office of Science, are to be found here.