The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide up to $75 million over five years for research to develop sustainable bioenergy crops tolerant of environmental stress and resilient to changing environmental conditions.

“With this research, the U.S. will lead the way in laying the agricultural foundation for the emerging bio-economy,” said Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar. “It’s critical for crops grown for bioenergy and bioproducts to be able to survive and thrive under marginal growing conditions and maintain resiliency to environmental stresses and changes to avoid competing with food production.”

Research will focus on better understanding the genetic and physiological mechanisms influencing plant productivity, resource use, and resistance to environmental stress, among other factors.

Researchers are expected to take advantage of today’s advanced “omics” tools and techniques, including genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics.

Researchers are also encouraged, where applicable, to draw on the resources of DOE Office of Science user facilities, including the DOE Joint Genome Institute at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the supercomputing centers at the DOE national laboratories.

Applications will be open to universities, industry, and nonprofit research institutions as the lead institution, with possible collaborators at DOE national laboratories and other federal agencies.

Funding is to be awarded competitively, based on peer review, and is expected to be in the form of five-year grants ranging from $1 to $3 million per year, beginning in the current fiscal year.

Total planned funding is $75 million over five years, with outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.