What is in this article?:
- New, improved peanut varieties leading way for U.S. production
- Will save on seed costs
- Elite varieties
- Peanut rust, aflatoxin
• It’s no coincidence that a steady rise in average U.S. peanut yields has followed the release of new and improved varieties, reaching a new height in 2012 of 4,192 pounds per acre.
DEVELOPING AND RELEASING new and improved peanut varieties is the goal of research currently being conducted at the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga., in collaboration with Auburn University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Florida. Shown during a stop during this past year’s Georgia Peanut Tour is Charles Chen, a geneticist and project leader at the National Peanut Lab.
Will save on seed costs
“This will not only save money for producers on seed cost, it will also give shellers a more uniform outturn. That’s important, enabling them to sell to multiple markets instead of having a lot of jumbos to deal with.”
High-oleic oil chemistry is another focus as researchers move forward with developing new varieties, says Lamb.
“Charles Chen looked at the mini-core germplasm collection to try and see if there were ways we could isolate certain properties within that,” says Lamb.
“This germplasm collection within the min-core offers us the opportunity to identify markers that we might could then bring back into the breeding program to have better properties for peanuts.”
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Some within the collection had 50-percent oil, extremely high relative to the traditional mean of 48 to 49 percent, he adds.
“Our genomic research takes us all the way through a variety release, or we can use biotechnology within that system and into a variety release. It is a long process,” explains Lamb.
“We’re dealing with the biological organism for peanuts, and it takes awhile to get these cultivars developed.”
In an attempt to focus on something that would have an immediate agronomic impact, Lamb says researchers have set their sights on tolerance to early and late leafspot disease.
“One of the things growers spend a lot of money on each year is early and late leafspot. They’re spraying every 10 to 14 days, spending a lot of money on fungicides, fuel and labor.
“Anything we can do to reduce or eliminate leafspot will save growers’ money and help us environmentally from a sustainability viewpoint. We looked at leafspot screening for transgenic and non-transgenic peanuts in our greenhouse.”
Genes have been found in the public domain that offer a certain level of leafspot resistance, says Lamb, and one of the genes was inserted into peanuts very successfully.
“We used a molecular biology tool that allows us to do gene amplification so it would measure the expression genetically. We were able to propagate these genes into the tissue of living plants. It was verified visually and through molecular techniques.
“Once we have these transformed peanuts, we hand them off to pathologists, and Auburn University pathologists are looking at these now.”