Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $13.5 million in funding for six projects to develop new approaches to microscopic imaging of plants and microbes, with the goal of advancing bioenergy research.

The aim is to take advantage of new technologies such as quantum dots to provide a more detailed picture of metabolic processes taking place within living cells.  Such capabilities will be important in the effort to reengineer plants and microbes for bioenergy conversion and production.

“For over a generation, DOE has been a leader in the development of new technologies for genomics and systems biology research,” said Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar.  “These projects will provide new tools to lead the way and improve our ability to understand and reengineer plants and microbes for bioenergy production.”

The new approaches are expected to enable more precise measuring of enzyme function, tracking of metabolic pathways, and monitoring of the transport of materials and signaling processes within and among cells—essential to redesigning plants and microbes for bioenergy production.  The goal is a better understanding of metabolic processes at the cellular and subcellular level.

Projects were chosen by competitive peer review under the DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement, “Bioimaging Approaches for Bioenergy,” sponsored by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the Department’s Office of Science.

Fiscal Year 2019 funding will be $4.5 million for projects of three years in duration, with outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.  A list of projects can be found here under the heading, “What’s New.”