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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Future drought will offset benefits of higher CO2 on soybean yields

An eight-year study of soybeans grown outdoors in a carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere like that expected by 2050 has yielded a new and worrisome finding: Higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations will boost plant growth under ideal growing conditions, but drought – expected to worsen as the climate warms and rainfall patterns change – will outweigh those benefits and cause yield losses much sooner than anticipated.

Illinois awarded $5M to increase water use efficiency in bioenergy sorghum

The University of Illinois has been awarded a 3-year, $5 million grant from the DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy as part of its OPEN 2015 funding initiative (ARPA-E OPEN). Under Principal Investigator Andrew Leakey, Associate Professor of Plant Biology, the interdisciplinary and multi-institutional team intends to increase the water use efficiency (WUE) of sorghum, a valuable bioenergy crop.

Camp Participants Forecast Bright Future for Women in Plant Science

Last week’s cloudy skies and frequent rain contributed to an unusually wet central Illinois summer, but could not dampen the enthusiasm for science displayed by 24 middle school girls who converged on the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) to learn about plants, pollination and technology.

Another Successful Year for the IGB Summer Camp, Pollen Power!

For many people, the word “pollen” evokes only the idea of a springtime allergenic nuisance.  For one group of middle school girls, though, pollen is now a symbol of summertime fun and learning.  Twenty-six girls from around East Central Illinois came to participate in Pollen Power!, a week-long science day camp hosted July 7-11 by the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus.

As CO2 levels rise, some crop nutrients will fall

As CO2 levels rise, some crop nutrients will fall

Researchers have some bad news for future farmers and eaters: As carbon dioxide levels rise this century, some grains and legumes will become significantly less nutritious than they are today.

The new findings are reported in the journal Nature. Eight institutions, from Australia, Israel, Japan and the United States, contributed to the analysis.

Improving Drought-Resistance of Biofuel Grasses

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a five-year, $12.1 million grant to a multi-institutional effort to develop drought-resistant grasses for use in biofuels. The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis will lead the initiative with researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Minnesota and Washington State University.

The grant is timely, said U. of I. plant biology professor Andrew Leakey, whose lab will receive $1.8 million of the funding.

IGB faculty member selected as Beckman Fellow, Center for Advanced Study

Andrew Leakey, a member of the Genomic Ecology of Global Change theme at IGB, was recently selected as a Beckman Fellow, Center for Advanced Study.  Leakey’s proposal, “Opening the Black Box of Plant Responses to Global Environmental Change with Genomic Tools”, deals with global environmental change in this century and the impact on growing conditions in farmers' fields and crop yields.

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