This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 18, 2009

DOE and USDA Offer $4 Million for Biomass Genomics Research

DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on October 12 that they will offer $4 million for genomics research projects to develop new plant feedstocks for biofuels. The new funding continues a commitment, begun in 2006, to conduct a joint fundamental research program in biomass genomics, aimed at improving biomass characteristics and yield. The genomic research project also intends to facilitate the release of sugars from woody plant tissue, including trees, bushes, and other non-edible plant matter. Once the sugars are released from woody plant tissue, they can be converted into biofuels and other products. The research will support the goal of replacing 30% of transportation fuels with biofuels by 2030.

The new solicitation intends to build upon the existing knowledge base of plant biology and take advantage of significant advances in breeding, molecular genetics, and genomic technologies, enabling researchers to confidently predict and manipulate plants' biological functions for bioenergy resources. Improved crops for energy fuels could use less intensive production techniques and poorer quality land, thereby avoiding competition with food production on better quality land. The new solicitation has not yet been posted on See the USDA press release and DOE's Genomic Science Program Web site.