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Danforth center receives $8m for bioenergy programDanforth center receives $8m for bioenergy program

June 26, 2015

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Danforth center receives $8m for bioenergy program

THE Donald Danforth Plant Science Center announced that it was awarded an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E TERRA program. Funds will be used for research to accelerate breeding and the commercial release of economically viable bioenergy sorghum hybrids.

Dr. Todd Mockler, the Geraldine & Robert Virgil distinguished investigator at the Danforth Center, is the principal investigator of this multi-institutional project.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecasted that more than 90% of U.S. cellulosic bioenergy needs will be met through biomass production in the South, with sorghum identified as a key crop. The new sorghum bioenergy belt will span eastern Texas, the Mississippi Valley, the Gulf Coast and the southern Atlantic Coast, according to the announcement.

Sorghum is a drought- and heat-tolerant member of the grass family that is grown worldwide. Sorghum's adaptability to diverse environments, low fertilizer requirements, high biomass potential and compatibility with row crop production position it to become a leading bioenergy crop in the U.S.

Mockler will lead a team focused on deploying an automated, robust field phenotyping system to deliver baseline crop trait data, which will accelerate development of high-yielding bioenergy sorghum.

Partner institutions include Clemson University, the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Kansas State University, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, the University of Illinois and Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.), with key collaborators at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center of USDA's Agricultural Research Service.

Volume:87 Issue:d2

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