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Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA)


Monday, November 17, 2014

[Deadline: TBA]


The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) recently announced a new program and
funding opportunity entitled Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA). The
goal of the TERRA program is to develop transformational methods to accelerate crop development for
the production of renewable fuels from biomass sources. ARPA-E intends to provide up to $30 million
for the program. The agency encourages “outstanding” scientists and engineers to form new project
teams for the TERRA program
ARPA-E recognizes the significant advances that have been made in developing the technologies needed
to extract data from crops used to produce biofuels, but it notes the lack of tools to help process the
data to predict crop performance in actual production. The agency seeks proposals to develop the tools
needed to “enable an increase in the rate and extent of genetic improvement in the yield of bioenergy
crops grown in the field.”1
The emphasis of the TERRA program is on plant phenotyping. The agency notes that researchers can
currently access significant data from certain crops in genetics, physiology, and environment. The
current need is to accelerate the phenotyping of plants to improve crop output. The program should
“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.”2 This information will
assist breeders in making crop selections with a goal of increasing the pipeline of sources to
manufacture advanced biofuels. ARPA-E indicates that while other crops will be considered, the
program intends to focus on energy sorghum as a model system because of its properties.3
program also seeks to identify genes that can improve carbon capture efficiency in new biofuels crops.
There are five main categories for proposed projects:
1) Complete Integrated Phenotyping Systems Solutions
2) High Throughput Automated Hardware and Sensing Technologies
3) Computational Solutions for Selection and Prediction
4) Genetics, Genomics, and Bioinformatics
5) Programmatic Reference Data Generation and Hosting

A June 2014 workshop hosted by ARPA-E on “Plant Phenotyping” emphasized the need to develop ways
to transform the bioenergy market, including new bioenergy crops with improved yield and less energy
use in production. Topics included crop physiology, breeding, and genomic and bioinformatic
technologies. Robotic platforms for remote data sensing technologies and data collection and the tools
needed to manage the data were also discussed.5 The results of the workshop helped inform the current
funding opportunity announcement (FOA). The proceedings of the workshop can be found at

For more information, please visit:

pdf Transportation Energy Resources from Renewable Agriculture (TERRA)



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