Plant Biotic Interactions

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

The Plant Biotic Interactions (PBI) program supports research on the processes that mediate beneficial and antagonistic interactions between plants and their viral, bacterial, oomycete, fungal, plant, and invertebrate symbionts, pathogens and pests. This joint NSF/NIFA program supports projects focused on current and emerging model and non-model systems, and agriculturally relevant plants. The program’s scope extends from fundamental mechanisms to translational efforts, with the latter seeking to put into agricultural practice insights gained from basic research on the mechanisms that govern plant biotic interactions. Projects must be strongly justified in terms of fundamental biological processes and/or relevance to agriculture and may be purely fundamental or applied or include aspects of both perspectives. All types of symbiosis are appropriate, including commensalism, mutualism, parasitism, and host-pathogen interactions. Research may focus on the biology of the plant host, its pathogens, pests or symbionts, interactions among these, or on the function of plant-associated microbiomes. The program welcomes proposals on the dynamics of initiation, transmission, maintenance and outcome of these complex associations, including studies of metabolic interactions, immune recognition and signaling, host-symbiont regulation, reciprocal responses among interacting species and mechanisms associated with self/non-self recognition such as those in pollen-pistil interactions. Explanatory frameworks should include molecular, genomic, metabolic, cellular, network and organismal processes, with projects guided by hypothesis and/or discovery driven experimental approaches. Strictly ecological projects that do not address underlying mechanisms are not appropriate for this program.  Quantitative modeling in concert with experimental work is encouraged. Overall, the program seeks to support research that will deepen our understanding of the fundamental processes that mediate interactions between plants and the organisms with which they intimately associate and advance the application of that knowledge to benefit agriculture.


Full Proposal Accepted Anytime

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research labs, professional societies and similar organizations in the U.S. associated with educational or research activities.
  • USDA/NIFA Eligible applicants include: (1) State agricultural experiment stations; (2) colleges and universities (including community colleges offering associate degrees or higher); (3) university research foundations; (4) other research institutions and organizations; (5) Federal agencies, (6) national laboratories; (7) private organizations or corporations; (8) individuals who are U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents; and (9) any group consisting of 2 or more entities identified in (1) through (8). Eligible institutions do not include foreign and international organizations.

PBI follows the Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) PI and co-PI eligibility requirements. In a given fiscal year (October 1 – September 30), an individual may participate as a PI or co-PI on no more than one proposal. Individuals are limited to one submission to this solicitation or the IOS Core Programs solicitation or the Plant Genome Research Program solicitation, or the RUI/ROA solicitation. Proposals in excess of the limit for any person will be returned without review in the reverse order received.

PI or co-PI, refer to how an individual is identified on a cover page or budget of a full proposal including all parts of a collaborative proposal. Participating in a proposal as other senior personnel does not count against this limit.

Resubmission of a substantially similar proposal with a different PI in the same fiscal year will be returned without review.

This limit does not include proposals to other solicitations or tracks other than the Core Programs track in the IOS solicitation [e.g., Rules of Life (RoL) track, Research Coordination Networks (RCN), Enabling Discovery through Genomic Tools (EDGE), CAREER, or to core programs in other BIO Divisions [Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB), Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) and Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI)]. However other solicitations may have their own limit guidelines so be sure to review those carefully for details.

It is the responsibility of the submitters to confirm that the research team is within these eligibility guidelines. Changes to the team post-submission to meet eligibility limits will not be allowed.



Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 25 to 30

Anticipated Type of Award: Continuing Grant or Standard Grant

Estimated Number of Awards: 25 to 30 awards per year, pending availability of funds

Anticipated Funding Amount: $18,500,000

Approximate Funding Amount: $18,500,000 depending on availability of funds

$10.5M from NSF for new standard or continuing grant awards, and approximately $8M from USDA/NIFA for new awards. Both estimates depend on availability of appropriations. USDA/NIFA will support projects for up to four years in duration. Although there are no formal upper or lower limits to award amounts, they typically range from $50,000 to $300,000 per year, with durations of two to four years (and five years for CAREER awards). Enactment of additional continuing resolutions or an appropriations act may affect the availability or level of funding for this program.

Funding Type





Environmental & Life Sciences