USDA and DOE to coordinate research of plant and microbial genomics

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy announced Monday they will share resources and coordinate the study of plant and microbial genomics, and the Department of Energy will tackle the sequencing of the soybean genome as the first project resulting from the agreement.

"This agreement demonstrates a joint commitment to support high-quality genomics research and integrated projects to meet the nation's agriculture and energy challenges," said Dr. Colien Hefferan, administrator of USDA's Cooperative State Research, Extension and Economics Service (CSREES), who signed the agreement for USDA.

"Both agencies will leverage their expertise and synergize activities involving agricultural- and energy-related plants and microbes," said Dr. Ari Patrinos, Department of Energy Associate Director of Science for Biological and Environmental Research. "We will enhance coordination of proposed sequencing projects through the Biological and Environmental Research Microbial Sequencing Program or the Joint Genome Institute's Community Sequencing Program."

USDA and DOE will establish a framework to cooperate and coordinate agency-relevant plant and microbial genome sequencing and bioinformatics that can serve the needs of the broader scientific community and solve problems that are important to each agency's mission. This agreement could help speed the deployment of emerging technologies, such as improved methods of gene identification and sequence assembly.

The DOE Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) will sequence the genome (decode the DNA) of the soybean, Glycine max, the world's most valuable legume crop. Soybean is of particular interest to DOE because it is the principal source of biodiesel, a renewable, alternative fuel. Biodiesel has the highest energy content of any alternative fuel and is significantly more environmentally friendly than comparable petroleum-based fuels, since it degrades rapidly in the environment. It also burns more

Contact: Jeff Sherwood
DOE/US Department of Energy

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