Bypass Navigation




The FY 2004 Budget Request for the Plant Genome Research (PGR) Subactivity is $75.0 million, equal to the FY 2003 Request.

Plant Genome Research Funding
(Dollars in Millions)

FY 2002
FY 2003
FY 2004
Plant Genome Research Projects
Total, Plant Genome Research

The Plant Genome Research Subactivity was initiated in FY 1998, building upon an existing base of genome research supported throughout the BIO activity. PGR supports projects that make significant contributions to our understanding of plant genome structure and function. Emphasis is placed on plants of economic importance, as well as plant processes of potential economic value. Long-term benefits of this research include fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of plant biology and practical applications to crop improvement, and the development of novel, plant-based products.

The program was established as part of the National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI). NSF plays a major role in the NPGI. Other participating agencies are USDA, DOE, and NIH. The NSF program is managed according to the guidelines and objectives of the NPGI, and it works closely with the other agencies in coordinating funding activities.

maizeSignificant progress toward the NPGI goals has been made. Research resources and research tools have been developed that now make it possible for scientists located anywhere in the U.S. to participate in plant genome research. For example, in 1998, only 50,000 plant Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) were publicly available. By 2002, PGR-supported projects had produced and deposited over 2 million ESTs in public databases. These resources are now being used by thousands of plant biologists to identify genes and conduct research on many different species. In FY 2002, efforts to sequence gene-rich regions of the maize genome began. Maize is the most economically important crop in the US and knowledge of its genome sequence can help improve crop yield and nutritional quality, and expand its uses. The maize sequencing effort is also pioneering a novel method to sequence large genomes more efficiently.

PGR has supported large-scale genome projects that address major biological questions in plants, such as plant responses to environmental and biological stresses. Many of the projects are conducted by virtual centers each of which involves scientists from multiple institutions and disciplines. NSF's investment in plant genome research has stimulated international collaboration, including the international wheat genome research group, the international rice functional genomics consortium, and the international Medicago trancatula (a model legume) research consortium.

MPSS (Massively parallel signature sequencing) graphicA new method, massively parallel signature sequencing (MPSS), is being used to identify expressed genes and determine the level of expression. This method has the advantage of being very sensitive compared to other current approaches and is likely to detect sequences that would otherwise be missed. The outcomes of this project will allow a far more complete and accurate understanding of the Arabidopsis genome and will also provide a valuable database of which genes are expressed during different stages of plant development and under a wide range of stress conditions.

The National Plant Genome Initiative has issued its new five-year plan for 2003-2008. The FY 2004 Budget Request will support activities to meet the goals of the new NPGI plan, including:

  • Functional Genomics including Rice Functional Genomics: Taking advantage of the recently completed sequence of the rice genome by an international consortium, PGR will support efforts to identify the function of all the rice genes and to develop functional genomics tools for rice. These efforts will be coordinated internationally. Functional genomics research in other plant systems will continue to be supported utilizing the large amounts of data and resources accumulated over the last five years as a result of PGR supported projects.

  • Young Investigator Awards in Plant Genome Research: This activity is designed to increase participation of new investigators in plant genome research. Young investigators are encouraged to submit individual or small collaborative projects to establish themselves as active members of the plant genome research community and become tomorrow's leaders.

  • Large-scale Sequencing of Genomes of Economically Important Plants: The recent success in using new methods to concentrate gene-rich regions of large genome species, like maize, for sequencing will likely lead to increased efforts to sequence gene-rich regions of several other economically important plant species.

  • Individual and Small Group Awards in Plant Genome Research: Plant genome research by individual or small group of scientists will be supported in order to increase participation of a broader segment of the scientific community.

  • Plant Genome Virtual Centers: These are "centers without walls" or collaboratories where coordinated, multi-investigator teams pursue comprehensive plant genome research programs relevant to economically important plants or plant processes. Currently active centers range in size and scope, some with a focus on functional genomics and others with a focus on developing tools and resources for plant genomics studies for the scientific community.