DOE Community Science Program selects 30 proposals to boost bioenergy

September 27, 2017 |

In Washington, many of the 30 proposals selected for the 2018 Community Science Program (CSP) of the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, aim to utilize multiple genomic and analytical capabilities, along with scientific expertise, to users focused on the underlying mechanisms involved in bioenergy generation and biogeochemical processes.

Among those awarded participation in the program are:

Boulos Chalhoub of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) will explore how DNA methylation and repeated hybridization have shaped the polyploid Brachypodium hybridum, a relative of candidate bioenergy grasses such as switchgrass. Polyploid plants contain multiple sets of chromosomes, which makes sequencing and assembling these genomes more challenging, but can also make the plants more stress tolerant.

  Alisa Huffaker of the University of California (UC), San Diego will harness the DOE JGI’s diverse capabilities in the plant, metagenome, and synthesis programs, and use metabolomics to produce systems analysis of the metabolic diversity of sorghum and maize to better understand microbiome interactions and how these grasses tolerate various stresses.

  James Leebens-Mack of the University of Georgia will develop a comparative plant genomics framework involving high-quality genome assemblies and annotations for 35 species. The Open Green Genomes Initiative, which lists 98 co-primary investigators along with Leebens-Mack, will improve comparative analyses of the genes, regulatory networks and metabolic pathways influencing plant growth and responses to environmental stress, and inform engineering of plants for efficient production of biofuels and bioproducts. In the proposal, the team noted that the large number of investigators “is a testament to the importance and broad interest in developing infrastructure – including strategically sampled reference-quality genome sequences – to aid comprehensive comparative analyses across the green tree of life.”

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