Biotech Updates

Peanuts: More Genetically Diverse than Expected

July 9, 2010

Using molecular markers, crop scientist Dr. Susana Milla-Lewis of North Carolina University and co-workers were able to study genetic variabilities in peanuts. The study published in Crop Science showed that variation in peanuts released since 1940 to 1970 have increased variabilities, then declined a bit in the subsequent two decades coinciding with the popularity of the successful variety Flogiriant as a parental variety. The increase in variabilities in 2000 was due to a search for disease resistant varieties in the peanut germplasm.

The significant increase in variability in a crop that has a narrow germplasm to begin with is a feather on the cap of the breeders who have continuously strived to improve the peanut germplasm. Historically, the use of a single variety can lead to genetic vulnerability to diseases and pests. Continuing research at the University is on the use of molecular markers to investigate genetic diversity in smaller peanuts utilized in peanut butter and candies. Other studies include the association of specific markers with useful agronomic traits such as early maturity and disease resistance.

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