The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $68 million in funding over five years for basic research aimed at making bioenergy feedstock crops more productive and resilient.

“One key requirement for sustainable bioenergy production is feedstock crops that can be grown on marginal lands that are not traditionally suitable for growing food,” said Dr. Chris Fall, Director of DOE’s Office of Science. “This research will help us understand the molecular mechanisms that lead to crops with greater productivity and survivability in stressful environments.”

The research will cover several common bioenergy feedstocks, including sorghum, pennycress, and poplar, among others. The focus will be on the complex interactions among crops, soil, and soil microbes that impact productivity and stress resistance. The research will combine controlled field studies with computational modeling.

Projects were chosen by competitive peer review under a DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement for Systems Biology Research to Advance Sustainable Bioenergy Crop Development, sponsored by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) within DOE’s Office of Science.

Total funding is $68 million for projects lasting five years in duration, with $13 million in Fiscal Year 2020 dollars and outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations. A list of projects can be found on the BER homepage under the heading, “What’s New.”