This ARPA-E program, Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture, is an investment in technologies that increase the precision, accuracy and throughput of energy crop breeding, to enable (a) new predictive algorithms for plant growth, (b) more detailed measurements for plant physiology, and (c) more sophisticated bioinformatics pipelines for gene discovery and trait association.
TERRA will enable breeders to evaluate more individual plants, to select appropriate plants for breeding earlier in the growing season, to capture better information about them during their development, and to associate this information with the best genes to propagate. Success will be measured by the prospective ability to predict yield gains early, specifically, to identify which genes can improve carbon capture efficiency in newly cultivated bioenergy crops.
Although other crops will be considered, this program intends to focus on energy sorghum as a model system because of its:
- Potential for improvement through breeding
- Resources for genetic analysis
- Geographic adaptability
- Commercial utility
Concept papers are due Nov. 17.