Funding: Department of Energy Announces $13.5 Million for New Bioimaging Approaches for Bioenergy

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide $13.5 million for efforts to develop new approaches to microscopic imaging of plants and microbes, with the goal of advancing bioenergy research. The bioimaging initiative aims in part to take advantage of radically new technologies such as quantum dots to provide a more detailed picture of metabolic processes taking place within living cells. Such insights are critical to the effort to reengineer plants and microbes for bioenergy conversion and production.

"As a pioneer agency supporting research in genomics, DOE has been a leader in understanding and reengineering biological systems," said DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar. "This effort will improve our research toolkit to better harness plant and microbial systems for the benefit of our economic and energy security."

The research aims at developing new imaging approaches, including quantum probes and sensors, to enable observation and characterization of multiple complex biological processes occurring within living plant and microbial system in real time. The new approaches are expected to allow more precise measuring of enzyme function, tracking of metabolic pathways, and monitoring of the transport of materials and signaling processes within and among cells—all of which are key to redesigning plants and microbes for bioenergy production.

Applications will be open to universities, industry, and nonprofit research institutions as the lead institution, with potential collaborators at the DOE national laboratories and other federal agencies. Funding is to be awarded competitively, on the basis of peer review, and is expected to be in the form of 3-year grant awards ranging from $500,000 to $750,000 per year, beginning in the current fiscal year.

Total planned funding is $13.5 million over three years, with outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.

A DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement and a companion laboratory call, issued by DOE's Office of Science, are to be found here.