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The complicated perfect peanut. Good luck, peanut genome
Publish:2016-04-13 By jacob
The peanut genome is sequenced, which is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean the industry is looking to develop a GMO peanut. Not that there’s anything wrong with GMO crops. It’s just that the peanut is not moving in that direction.
 
Background: The peanut genome is complicated because it has two sets of chromosomes, which makes it hard to genetically figure out or to map out. So far, two progenitor wild types have been sequenced.  A cultivated peanut has been sequenced but not assembled.
 
The peanut genome was official sequenced about two years ago by the International Peanut Genome Initiative, a group of multinational crop geneticists who have been working in tandem for the last several years. But since then, news on the project has abated. That’s why I was glad to hear Steve Brown, the execute director of The Peanut Foundation, give an update on the project to attendees at the annual Georgia Peanut Farm Show and Conference Jan. 21.
 
The peanut industry invested about $6 million to get this genome work done. Now, the industry just needs to figure out where to go from here, Brown said.
 
Brown gave an analogy to illustrate the complexity of the peanut genome: Get two dictionaries, one a Webster’s dictionary and another kind of your choosing. Chop up both dictionaries into tiny pieces. Mix the pieces up in a big pickle jar, or bag or whatever, and dump the pieces out on the floor.
 
Now, piece all those pieces back together, building back each definition correctly and put each correct definition back in its correct dictionary. “And that is where we are with the peanut project right now,” Brown said. “We got all the pieces. Now, we have to put it all together in the right order.”
 
The peanut industry isn’t large enough for private companies to invest in research and development of breeding lines or improved varieties. The effort to get growers and the industry the better, staying-ahead-of-problems peanut varieties needed today falls exclusively on public breeding programs.

The complicated perfect peanut. Good luck, peanut genome
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