Harrison and Fei Awarded USDA/DOE Grant
Congratulations to Professors Maria Harrison and Zhangjun Fei, recently awarded one of the ten grants from the Department of Energy DOE, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support research on Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy. This research will “accelerate genetic breeding programs to improve plant feedstocks for the production of biofuels, biopower, and biobased products.” Maria’s research can lead to reduced need for fertilizers, through better understanding and possible enhancement of the symbiotic pathway between plant roots and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi that enable nutrient uptake. Learning more about the genetic basis of AM may allow feedstocks to be grown more efficiently on marginally fertile land, or at least reduce applications of nitrogen and phosphorous. Harrison and Fei will be looking at a feedstock model species, Brachypodium distachyon, as well as sorghum, a typical feedstock species.