Agricultural Community

Reducing Global Hunger with Agrigenomics

Reducing Global Hunger with Agrigenomics

Illumina is dedicated to making tangible contributions to the agricultural community, with the goal of reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. We are committed to enabling groundbreaking research that will result in increased sustainability, productivity, and nutritional density of agricultural species.

Agricultural Greater Good Initiative

Illumina Agricultural Greater Good Initiative

Through the Illumina Agricultural Greater Good Initiative, we are collaborating with the agricultural community to support research into enabling a more sustainable, nutritious food supply. The grant program is designed to help identify measures that can increase crop yields and improve livestock welfare and productivity to alleviate poverty and hunger in the developing world.

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The Award

Applications for the 2024 Agricultural Greater Good Initiative grant is currently being accepted. The deadline for all 2024 applications is September 30, 2023.

The Illumina Agricultural Greater Good Initiative grants launched in 2011, and are awarded annually. This program spurs critically needed research that will increase the sustainability, productivity, and nutritional density of agriculturally important crop and livestock species. Grant recipients receive donations of Illumina products to support their projects.

The Grand Prize winner will receive up to $350,000 of in-kind consumables and/or services at list price value on up to 1000 samples of your choice. The winner will be announced during the International Plant and Animal Genome Conference in January 2024.

Agricultural Greater Good Initiative

This initiative recognizes researchers in the agricultural community using Illumina technology to help alleviate global hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.

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Eligibility and Requirements

The grant program is open to basic researchers in Agrigenomics at academic, for profit, or nonprofit institutions. Priority will be given to research that increases sustainability, productivity, and nutritional density of the world’s food supply.

In 400 words or less, provide an overview, a statement of work, and a description of the impact of your research. You may also include up to three figures, with legends, and a list of citations (with 200 word count limit).

In these sections, applicants should include:

  • Economic impact
  • Social impact
  • Collaborators
  • Nations represented
  • Technologies used
  • Other sources of funding

To be considered, all entries must:

  • Be in English
  • Be complete
  • Be an original work

Judging Criteria

A team of Illumina scientists and executives will judge all submissions. Each submission will be judged based on our view of how well the entry reflects scientific merit, innovation, and fit with the values of the Illumina Agricultural Greater Good Initiative.

Past Recipients of the Agricultural Greater Good Initiative Grant

Rodrigo Cano and Scott Fahrenkrug

Brazilian Consortium for Phycogenomics at SENAI CETIQT in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Dr Scott Fahrenkrug, Rodrigo Cano, and their collaborators will use genomic and transcriptomic data collected from Kappaphycus alvarezii, a commonly cultivated type of seaweed, to understand how various environmental factors influence its growth and ability to synthesize useful biomolecules. Insights from these studies will aid in the development of new cultivars, inform management strategies for sustainable seaweed production, protect genetic diversity, and support seaweed farmers worldwide.

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Dr. Ranjana Bhattacharjee

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

Molecular geneticist Dr. Ranjana Bhattacharjee, of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, will work in generating DNA sequencing data on yam diversity to accelerate breeding programs in West Africa for the benefit of food security in low-income communities.

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Dr. Bertram Brenig

University of Goettingen, Institute of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Bertram Brenig and his collaborators will use genomics to help understand vulnerabilities impacting the Western Honey Bee, one of the most populous pollinators facing multiple challenges and population decline.

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Roland Schafleitner

The International Mungbean Improvement Network led by the World Vegetable Center

This network is serving ~10 million smallholder farmers by improving crop yield and overcoming challenges from diseases and pests. Mungbean is a short-duration legume crop that can be grown in cultivation windows between major crops such as wheat, rice, sorghum, and sugarcane. It delivers an additional protein-rich food source in the region and additional income for farmers.

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Elena Ciani

University Bari, Italy and International Camel Consortium for Genetic Improvement and Conservation (ICC-GIC)

The mission of the ICC-GIC is to help scientists and professionals collaborate while promoting food security and the sustainable development of the camel sector.

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Gabriela "Vanina" Villanova

National University of Rosario's Aquatic Biotechnology Laboratory, Santa Fe, Argentina

Dr. Villanova and her team will use sequencing to develop a high-quality de novo genome assembly and a high-density SNP-based linkage map for pacú, a commercially important South American freshwater fish.

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G. Craig Yencho and Bode Olukolu

North Carolina State University, Department of Horticulture

G. Craig Yencho and Bode Olukolu are working to develop a whole-genome assembly and a SNP array for the nutritious sweet potato.

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Todd Mockler

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center aims to optimize breeding strategies for improving the yield and stress tolerance of grain sorghum, a critical source of nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Allen Van Deynze and Howard-Yana Shapiro

University of California Davis, African Orphan Crops Consortium

The African Orphan Crops Consortium is using genomics to advance the breeding process for orphan crop plant species, with a mission to curb malnutrition in African children.

In 2017, Illumina donated a HiSeq 4000 System to the African Orphan Crops Consortium to help the organization complete its crop sequencing project. Members of the consortium hope that their work will help to improve the food supply and nourish families in need.

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Tim Close

University of California at Riverside

Timothy J. Close, PhD is studying the cowpea to maximize drought resistance of this important food source in West Africa.

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Max Rothschild

Iowa State University, Global Food Security Consortium

Illumina sheep and goat BeadChips help Iowa State University researchers identify selection signatures associated with heat and drought tolerance.

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Rajeev Varshney


Rajeev Varshney, PhD and other ICRISAT researchers are using Illumina sequencing to develop disease-resistant pigeonpea varieties.

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Appolinaire Djikeng

Biosciences eastern and central Africa – International Livestock Research Institute Hub (BecA-ILRI Hub)

Illumina sequencing is enabling BecA-ILRI Hub researchers to better understand two viruses responsible for infecting cassava crops throughout Africa.

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Tad Sonstegard


The USDA is employing Illumina sequencing to uncover the genetic differences between the world's goat breeds, identifying mutations that enable goats to thrive in harsh environments.

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Todd Michael

Head of Genome Analysis Centre, Monsanto

By sequencing the baobab tree, Monsanto is providing scientists with the genomic resources to protect and sustain the baobab, while informing our understanding of tree evolution.

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Additional Resources

Genomics to Enhance Global Food Security
Genomics to Enhance Global Food Security

The African Orphan Crops Consortium is using genomics to address malnutrition in Africa.