Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced more than $7 million in grants for research on the biology of plant processes and traits which can be used to breed crops with enhanced value and resilience to climate stress. The research will increase understanding of plant biology from the genome to the field, and provide a foundation for the development of plant varieties with increased yield, reduced production cost, and enhanced quality and nutritional value.

"At a time when disruptive climate change threatens production of some of the world's staple foods, some of the biggest gains we can make in ending world hunger will involve development of stress-resistant crops," said Vilsack. "Drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant, and saline-resistant crops will not only offer tremendous improvements for farmers around the world, but also position American farmers competitively in the world market."

These grants are awarded by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture -- previously the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service -- under the new Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program to provide funding for fundamental and applied research, extension and education to address food and agricultural sciences.

The following awards were designated for California:

• University of California, Davis, Calif., $448,000

• University of California, Davis, Calif., $447,000

• University of California, Riverside, Calif., $1 million