The National Science Foundation (NSF) is adding $100 million in support to its ongoing plant genomics funding, with the largest of the latest grants going to six new multiinstitute collaborations known as "virtual centers." The 31 grants announced Friday (October 3) range from $600,000 to nearly $11 million over 2 to 5 years, and more than $40 million of the total will fund the new virtual centers.

"The benefit of virtual centers is that they bring together the diverse expertise needed to bear on specific research problems in a rapid and flexible way," NSF Plant Genome Research Program Director Jane Silverthorne told The Scientist. The virtual centers make it possible "to assemble a research group with a diverse range of skills, from bioinformatics to plant breeding to sequencing, to come together rapidly to tackle a large problem," Silverthorne explained. "This kind of expertise may not be available at a...

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