Researchers from the International Peanut Genome Initiative (IPGI) have sequenced the genome of peanuts for the first time.
The peanut (Arachis hypogaea), or the groundnut, which is an important cash crop, is also a major source of calories in many countries. It is a rich source of edible oil and proteins.
The finding will help researchers come up with better and more productive varieties of peanut. Globally, farmers produce about 40 million metric tons of peanuts annually.
"The peanut crop is important in the United States, but it's very important for developing nations as well," said Scott Jackson, who serves as the chair of the IPGI.
The peanut grown today is the outcome of a natural cross between two wild species, Arachis duranensis and Arachis ipaensis, which was found in north Argentina between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago.
So, the present peanut is a polyploid as it is derived from two separate genomes. For the sequencing of genomes, researchers used the two original genomes. Samples of the two species were collected and conserved in germplasm banks.
"Improving peanut varieties to be more drought—, insect— and disease—resistant can help farmers in developed nations produce more peanuts with fewer pesticides and other chemicals and help farmers in developing nations feed their families and build more secure livelihoods," said plant geneticist Rajeev Varshney of the International Crops Research Institute for Semi—Arid Tropics in India, who serves on the IPGI.