Hyderabad, Apr 3 UNI | 4 months ago

The International Peanut Genome Initiative (IPGI), a multi-national group of crop geneticists working in cooperation for several years, has successfully sequenced the genome of the peanut.

The new peanut genome sequence will be available to researchers and plant breeders across the globe to aid in the breeding of more productive, more resilient peanut varieties, ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics), which is a member of the Peanut Genome Consortium, a coalition of international scientists and stakeholders engaged in the peanut genome sequencing project, said in a release here today.

ICRISAT led a global research partnership in decoding the genome sequence of pigeonpea in 2011, and of chickpea in 2013; it is currently leading the genome sequencing of pearl millet.

Peanut (Arachis hypogaea), also called groundnut, is an important crop both commercially and nutritionally. Globally, farmers tend about 24 million hectares of peanut each year, producing about 40 million metric tons. While the oil and protein rich legume is seen as a cash crop in the developed world, it remains an important sustenance crop in developing nations.

The effort to sequence the genome of the peanut has been underway for several years.

According to plant geneticist, Dr Peggy Ozias-Akins, UGA-Tifton, GA, while peanuts have been successfully bred for intensive cultivation, relatively little was known about the legume's genetic structure because of its complexity.

Plant geneticists, Drs David and Soraya Bertioli of Brazil expressed their enthusiasm for the new possibilities offered by the genome sequence, 'Until now, we've bred peanuts relatively blindly compared to other crops. These new advances are allowing us to understand breeding in ways that could only be dreamt of before.'

The peanut grown in fields today is the result of a natural cross between two wild species, Arachis duranensis and Arachis ipaensis that occurred in the north of Argentina between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. Because its ancestors were two different species, today's peanut is a tetraploid, meaning the species carries two separate genomes which are designated A and B sub-genomes.

To map the peanut's genome structure, IPGI researchers sequenced the two ancestral parents, because together they represent the cultivated peanut. The sequences provide researchers access to 96 percent of all peanut genes in their genomic context, providing the molecular map needed to more quickly breed drought-resistant, disease-resistant, lower-input and higher-yielding varieties.

(Posted on 03-04-2014)