Benson Hill Biosystems, an agricultural technology company dedicated to enhancing the sustainability of food, feed, fiber and fuel production through cloud biology, announced a partnership with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center TERRA-REF program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Program.

The partnership will leverage ‘Breed’, an application powered by Benson Hill’s CropOS cloud biology platform, to advance the performance of feedstocks as an alternative energy source through accelerating the development of improved sorghum varieties.

“We are pleased to join forces with this team of institutions and researchers who, like our team at Benson Hill, are dedicated to boldly innovating and tackling tall global challenges,” said Matthew Crisp, CEO of Benson Hill Biosystems. “Creating sustainable, low-cost feedstock crops will help secure energy independence and develop new forms of bioenergy. It is a societal and environmental step forward to create new market opportunities and private sector growth.”

TERRA-REF is a $40 million initiative to develop and validate tools that support the rapid innovation of new feedstock varieties, including sorghum, a nutrient-dense, drought-tolerant crop used for ethanol, feed and food production. The program will sequence more than 400 sorghum genomes and capture tens of millions of phenotypic observations over the course of each growing season, generating data at a rate of several terabytes per day. This data will contribute to and leverage CropOS, Benson Hill Biosystems’ cognitive engine that utilizes big data analytics and machine learning capabilities to improve crop performance.

“Public-private sector partnerships are important elements for accelerating innovation in crops that are essential to our bioenergy vision,” said Joe Cornelius, Program Director of DOE ARPA-E TERRA. “They provide us with access to complementary tools and capabilities that amplify our efforts to develop commercially relevant technologies and ensure that the learnings we are generating will be impactful for the improvement of feedstocks to meet our bioenergy goals.”

Benson Hill’s proprietary software application ‘Breed’ provides a simple user interface for plant breeders and researchers across disciplines to easily manage phenotypes, map networks, predict traits, and identify high-performing crosses for advancement in a breeding program.

“Leveraging ‘Breed’ in this partnership represents the convergence of disciplines that we need in plant science to meet our global food and energy goals,” said Jim Carrington, Ph.D., president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. “This is a terrific example of what the next generation of plant science will look like, and platforms like CropOS will play a major role in helping us use rapidly expanding and diverse data to deliver sustainable crop improvements.”