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Nine Biomass Research Projects Awarded $9 Million in Funding

The University of Illinois and Texas A&M University are among nine institutions that have been awarded a total of nearly $9 million in funding from the DOE and the USDA to accelerate research in biomass genomics research.

The various projects and the joint DOE-USDA Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy research program are described at http://genomicscience.energy.gov/research/DOEUSDA/index.shtml.

At the University of Illinois, Matthew Hudson, Dept. of Crop Science, and colleagues will study the role of RNA molecules in regulating the expression of genes which control the size, shape and composition of biofuel crops, such as Miscanthus, switchgrass and Prairie Cordgrass.

At Texas A&M University, John Mullet at the Functional Genomics of Plants Laboratory, will head research on using genomics and genetics to increase the yield and improve the composition of high biomass cellulosic energy sorghum and other C4 bioenergy grasses.

“Since these crops tend to require less intensive production practices and can grow on somewhat poorer quality land than food crops, they will be a critical element in a strategy of sustainable biofuels production that avoids competition with crops grown for food,” reports the DOE.

DOE’s Office of Science will provide $6.9 million in funding for seven projects while USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will award $2 million to fund the two projects described above. Initial funding will support these research projects for up to three years.

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