Grants awarded for multidisciplinary research in Agricultural Genome-to-Phenome arena

Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative

AMES, Iowa – The Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative has awarded seven grants to institutions across the country for projects that help advance crop and livestock genetics research.

“Projects such as this will help advance the field of genome-to-phenome research by identifying ways to share data and approaches across crops and livestock,” said Patrick Schnable, AG2PI lead scientist and distinguished professor at Iowa State University. “We anticipate that some researchers will be able to leverage their seed grants into larger studies.”

The Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative is a three-year project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The goal of AG2PI is to connect crop and livestock scientists to each other and to those working in data science, statistics, engineering and social sciences to identify shared problems and collaborate on solutions. The AG2PI program includes three rounds of seed grants, of which these are the first round of recipients. The seed grants help to address genome-to-phenome issues and develop solutions for research needs and identify gaps as well as sharing opportunities.

“The funded projects will bring people together and promote new collaborations across disciplines, institutions and career levels, allowing their knowledge and skills to influence each other,” said Ed Kaleikau, with USDA NIFA. “It will also expose the agriculture community to different ideas and new ways of thinking to enable and catalyze future genome-to-phenome science.”

One of the grants in this round will support a project at Iowa State University, “Ethics, Diversity, and Inclusivity in G2P Research.” The lead project investigator is Cassandra Dorius, assistant professor, human development and family studies. Co-investigators include associate professor Shawn Dorius, sociology, and Rachael Voas, business administrator, and graduate student Kelsey Van Selous, both in human development and family studies.

The Iowa State project will focus on expanding networks, ideas and knowledge in agriculture genome-to-phenome research through ethical, legal, social, ecological and economic considerations. The team expects that bringing underrepresented groups to the table will increase ideas and knowledge in communication and data sharing through different perspectives and experiences. They will conduct a series of workshops with researchers to define the “who, what, why and how” of G2P research and share workshop outcomes with others in these research fields.

Other projects and teams receiving AG2PI Round 1 seed grants include:

  • Cattle Genome to Herd Phenotyping for Precision Ag: Stephanie McKay, University of Vermont; Darren Hagen, Oklahoma State University; Robert Schnabel, University of Missouri; Brenda Murdoch, University of Idaho
  • Empowering High-Throughput Phenotyping Using UAVs: Max Feldman, USDA-Agricultural Research Service; Filipe Matias, North Dakota State University; Jennifer Lachowiec, Montana State University; David LeBauer, University of Arizona
  • Identifying Educational Resources and Gaps in AG2P Data Science Across Plant and Animal Agriculture Genomics: Breno Fragomeni, University of Connecticut; Cedric Gondro and Tasia Taxis, Michigan State University; Margaret Young, Elizabeth City State University, North Carolina
  • Machine Learning Competitions for G2P and End-of-Season Phenotype Prediction: Abby Stylianou and Madison Pope, St. Louis University, Missouri
  • Optimizing 3D Canopy Architecture for Better Crops: Bedrich Benes, Purdue University; Duke Pauli and Fiona McCarthy, University of Arizona; James Schnable, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Seeding Public–Private Partnerships for AG2P Training: Addie Thompson, Tammy Long and Jyothi Kumar, Michigan State University.

The grant awards range from $15,000–$20,000, and projects will take six to 12 months to complete. The multi-institutional and cross-disciplinary projects help develop community solutions to research needs and opportunities in the G2P fields of study.

These are the first grants distributed through this federal initiative. Another round of seed grants will be awarded in Fall 2021. Information for submitting a request for proposal for Round 2 is on the AG2PI website; the deadline for submission is September 19. The RFP for Round 3 will be announced in early 2022. For more information, visit the webpage:

The AG2PI is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The goal of AG2PI is to build communities that address the challenges of genome to phenome research across crops and livestock. The AG2PI partners include Iowa State University, University of Nebraska, University of Arizona, University of Idaho and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.