Iowa Corn has contributed funding towards a new federal grant that will expand the impact of a project aimed at creating a shared vision across research communities for crops and livestock and data engineering, known as the Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative (AG2PI).
The $960,000 award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture supports phase II of the three-year Iowa State University-led AG2PI effort. The program won initial NIFA funding of $960,000 last September. Genomics to phenomics research generally explores how an organism’s genome, or complete set of DNA, influences the expression of observable, phenotypic traits -- and often how these traits are influenced by environmental factors.
“The new grant is not for internal research,” said Patrick S. Schnable, project director for the transdisciplinary, multi-institutional grant and Iowa Corn Promotion Board Endowed Chair in Genetics and Baker Scholar of Agricultural Entrepreneurship in Iowa State’s Department of Agronomy and director of the university’s Plant Sciences Institute. “Instead, this renewal will enable us to fund two more rounds of competitive ‘seed’ grants, allowing us to further engage the more than 1,000 AG2PI participants from across the US.”
In its first year, the initiative awarded seed grants for seven projects, representing 15 institutions that included undergraduate and historically black universities and colleges, land grant universities and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. The projects covered topics including educational resources and gaps in AG2P data science across plant and animal agriculture genomics; optimizing 3D canopy architecture for better crops; and ethics, diversity and inclusivity in G2P research.
In addition to the seed grants, the group has already convened an ambitious series of events reaching a global audience. Virtual field days, training sessions, workshops, a conference and a community survey have been conducted and more events are being planned. Most activities are recorded and available at the AG2PI website.
A stakeholders committee that involves nearly 20 industry organizations is being chaired by David Ertl, Technology Commercialization Manager for the Iowa Corn Growers Association. The Iowa Corn Growers Association has worked closely with the National Corn Growers Association, federal agencies, and universities to get this program included in the 2018 Farm Bill, and then to obtain federal appropriations in 2020 and 2021 to support this project.
“This exciting effort to connect crop, livestock and data experts has many implications for accelerating crop and livestock improvement and enhancing agricultural resiliency,” Ertl said. “This becomes ever-more important as weather variability continues to affect farming operations.”
Two requests for proposals are planned the first in Fall 2021 and another in Spring 2022. Eligibility for the program’s seed grants follows USDA guidelines, which require a research leader from the United States. Complete details will be posted on the AGP2I website, where there is a form for questions and a listserv available to receive project information.
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