The scientists found that their sequence was comparable in size to that of the human genome
Peanuts meet nutritional demands in underdeveloped countries as they are a rich source of protein and fatty acids. In a significant development, an international team of researchers led by plant geneticists at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics ( ICRISAT), established in Hyderabad. decoded the complete set of chromosomes from two widely cultivated peanut varieties belonging to the subspecies hypogaea and fastigiata.
Genetic decoding – known as the reference genome sequence – helps to understand the cell-level mechanisms that make a variety score better than the other. For peanuts, the decisive factors are high oil and protein content, disease and heat resistance, and high yield.
Genetic sequencing is a complex and exhaustive process that lasts for many years. The process involves several steps: high quality DNA is isolated from the target plant and cut into pieces. It is then placed in a sequencing machine. With the help of special tools and bioinformatics programs, gene sequencing is synthesized.
Peanuts, with their agricultural history of more than 6,000 years, have complex genomes. In this study, scientists found that their sequence was comparable in size to that of the human genome, which had just over 3 billion base pairs of DNA, with 83,709 genes that control its characteristics.
During this process, the team discovered that the peanut variety was a tetraploid – which means that the cultivated peanut genome harbors two different subspecies genomes. They also found that genome exchange was occurring with one dominating the other.
"The tetraploid nature is the result of the natural hybridization (crossing) of two wild species Arachisduranesnis and Arachisipaensis. The cultivated peanut genome is home to both genomes of the subspecies. By living and coordinating together, this double diploid genome decides the quality of the crops we see in the fields, "explained Rajeev Varshney, Director of ICRISAT's Research Program, speaking India Science Wire.
The reference to the genome provides researchers with access to all the peanut genes, which in turn will boost studies of gene discovery and marker development. "It will accelerate the development of superior varieties of peanuts with high oil and pod production, increased disease resistance, no aflatoxin and improved oil quality seeds," added Manish Pandey, senior scientist at ICRISAT.
This study will help expand the genetic basis for sustainable and resilient peanut production to meet the challenges brought byof climate changes.
The study involved scientists from research institutes in China, Taiwan, Australia, USA, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, France and Korea, as well as India. The research was published in two papers in the journal Nature Genetics. The Indian team included Manish K Pandey, Rajeev K. Varshney, Vanika Garg, Amir W Khan, Prasad Bajaj and Annapurna Chitikineni (ICRISAT); Polavarapu Bilhan Kavikishor (University of Osmania) and Senjuti Sinharoy (National Plant Genome Research Institute, New Delhi).
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