Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NSF Grants Nearly $60M for Plant Genome Research Program Awards

Source: GenomeWeb News, a GenomeWeb staff reporter ] - The National Science Foundation has injected $57.3 million into plant genomics studies across the country, and to several international recipients, covering a wide variety of plant life, such as legumes, soil microbes, flower nectar, mutant plants, and other crops.

This round of Plant Genome Research Program studies, in the eleventh year of the program, range from $350,000 to $6.8 million, and vary from two to five years in duration.

These grants will support tool development to advance genomics studies, and the studies will use sequence and functional genomics resources to investigate gene function and interactions between genomes and the environment. These programs will emphasize studies of crop plants that are economically useful such as corn, soybean, wheat, and rice, NSF said.

"Plant biologists continue to make significant conceptual and theoretical advances in our understanding of basic biological processes using plants," James Collins, NSF assistant director for biological sciences, said in a statement. "The latest projects funded through the PGRP reflect this shift and will integrate innovative, cutting edge research with the training of the next generation of plant scientists at both research universities and small teaching colleges and universities.”

These awards will be spread out among a total of 45 institutions in 28 states, and they will support international scientists in Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America. The grants were focused on funding research partnerships between two or more institutions, for example: The University of California, Davis, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Kansas State University will use $6.8 million to conduct physical mapping of the Wheat D genome. The J. Craig Venter Institute and the University of Wisconsin-Madison will receive $3.8 million to curate the genome of the Medicago truncatula, a legume from the Mediterranean regions commonly used in biology. The University of Southern California and the University of California, Davis, will study the same legume, and will receive $3.2 million to conduct community genomics research into local adaptation of the plant. The University of Arizona and the University of Missouri, Columbia, will use $4.3 million to study comparative functional genomic and proteomic analysis of rhizome specificity across the plant kingdom.

A complete list of the NSF’s PGCSP funding recipients for 2008, and previous years, is available here.

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