Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative announces grants for big projects, national conference

AG2PI Logo with bold letters, colored dots and text

Ames, IA — The Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative has awarded seven new grants in its fourth round of support for institutions across the country to develop projects that advance multidisciplinary crop and livestock genetics research.

The Agricultural Genome to Phenome Initiative is 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 leading AG2PI partners include Iowa State University, University of Nebraska, University of Arizona, University of Idaho and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. Originally funded as a three-year project, AG2PI was awarded a third grant in fall 2022 to support this latest round of seed grant funding.

This round of grants are larger awards of $150,000 to $250,000. Projects will run 12 months.

“We’re calling these ‘coconut’ grants, as they are larger seed grants. They are focused on big ideas and big projects meant to deepen and expand impactful interactions between crop and livestock scientists,” said Jennifer Clarke, AG2PI Seed Grant Committee Chair, and director of the Quantitative Life Science Initiative at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.   

One of the projects announced this week is being led by Juan Steibel, Iowa State professor and Lush Chair for Animal Breeding & Genetics, working with James Koltes, Iowa State assistant professor, animal science, and Michigan State University colleagues Michael VandeHaar and Robert J. Tempelman, animal science, and Gustavo de los Campos, epidemiology and biostatistics. The team’s project focuses on enabling inter-institutional agricultural genome to phenome collaboration using federated and transfer learning protocols to facilitate analysis of plant and animal breeding datasets across multiple institutions.

The other new grants awarded:

  • Developing robust imaging platforms for routine plant phenotyping, led by Trevor Rife, Clemson University       
  • Plant stress ontology: Data standards and knowledge graph, led by Pankaj Jaiswal, Oregon State University 
  • Facilitating community unoccupied aerial systems (UAS, drone) knowledge, communication and data processing, led by Seth Murray, Texas A&M University  
  • Developing standardized bioinformatics capacity across multiple agricultural species, led by Fiona McCarthy, University of Arizona             
  • Open-source online platform for UAS high throughput phenotyping data management, led by Jinha Jung, Purdue University
  • Delivering resource allocation guidelines for optimizing high-throughput phenotyping and genotyping in modern breeding programs, led by Mitchell Feldmann, University of California – Davis    

This round of grants involves collaborators working in 27 institutions or organizations. Overall, since 2020, about 40 AG2PI seed grants have been awarded, representing almost 50 entities.

“This is the final round of AG2PI seed grants planned for the project,” said Patrick Schnable, distinguished professor, Iowa State, and AG2PI lead scientist. “Iowa State and our AG2PI have been gratified to have had an extraordinary opportunity to move this multidisciplinary effort forward. We are impressed with the early progress resulting from the USDA-NIFA’s investments in these projects and look forward to their long-term results. Even so, there is still so much more to achieve to develop cross-kingdom solutions to emerging challenges of societal importance facing agriculture.”

For more information on all the awarded AG2PI seed grants, as well as other grant opportunities, visit the AG2PI seed grants webpage.

This summer, AG2PI will host an in-person conference in Kansas City, Missouri, June 15-16. The event, titled “Mapping the future of agricultural genome to phenome research,” will showcase a number of seed grant projects completed and underway. The event is open to the public, but registration will be required and space is limited. Find more details and registration information on the AG2PI’s conference website.