Development of the Peanut Genome Initiative
The competitiveness of peanuts in domestic and global markets is threatened by losses in
productivity and quality that are attributed to diseases, pests, environmental stresses and allergy
or food safety issues. The germplasm repositories and gene banks maintained by the USDA-ARS
National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) and the Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research (CGIAR) typically provide the first line of long-term defense against those
problems. In the United States, the Peanut Germplasm Collection at Griffin, Georgia contains ca.
9900 accessions of 72 species from 106 countries. Natural genetic diversity among wild relatives
and accessions of cultivated peanut provides the primary means to attain durable resistance or
tolerance to major constraints such as peanut root-knot nematode, tomato spotted wilt virus,
drought, and pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination. Even so, new technology is needed to facilitate
more rapid discovery of genes that confer a remedy to these constraints and the incorporation of
those genes into elite germplasm by conventional and biotechnological breeding methods in a
timely manner. Genomic, proteomic and bioinformatic research can provide the genetic tools to
effectively mine useful genes from the wealth of natural genetic diversity that exists in peanut.
However, to realize such ability, it was necessary to establish an infrastructure for genomic
research with a coordinated research approach to guide the effective development of peanut
germplasm, genetic tools and bioinformation. On 22-23 March 2004, 26-scientists with expert
knowledge of critical fields in genetics and plant molecular biology participated in a workshop
hosted by The Peanut Foundation/American Peanut Council in Atlanta Georgia. These scientists
reviewed the current status of peanut genomic research, which has been documented in the book
entitled, Legume Crop Genomics published by AOCS Press under the auspices of the U.S.