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.
Peanut rust, aflatoxin
Peanut rust and aflatoxin contamination also are getting attention from researchers, says Lamb.
“We had samples sent to us from experiment stations we thought were purely rust samples. But there was bacterial feeding on the samples.
“We amplified them within the lab and found out this bacteria was very aggressive and possibly could be used as a bio-control. We’re looking at the activity of this same bacteria on other pathogens as well.”
The goal with aflatoxin, he says, is to identify which genes, through genetic expression, are responsible for overcoming the defense mechanism within peanut plants.
“We’re talking about genes in the aflavus mold that secrete the aflatoxin. The plants produce phytoalexins for protection — just as do the white blood cells in our bodies.
“The plants send out the phytoalexins to wherever the aflavus mold is located, the aflavus mold detects the phytoalexins, and then it has a genetic expression that creates enzymes that it secretes to phytoalexins, breaking them down.
“Our scientists have identified the three genes that are in aspergillus and the two potential phytoalexins that are being broken down. This is a big breakthrough.”
Lamb says he expects some of these improved varieties to be released or available for seed increase soon.
He emphasizes there are no transgenic peanuts in edible markets today, that the varieties “are only in the experimental stage, and it will be years before any transgenic varieties will even be considered for release.”
Other articles in the series: