Better resistance to pests and improved tolerance to drought are just some
of the possible benefits of the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
initiative that successfully produced the clearest illustration yet of the
complex genomic history of the cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea).
The USDA scientists and collaborators conducted the project to elucidate the
molecular and cellular mechanisms that define the growth and development of
a peanut plant, including the expression of desirable characteristics such
as high seed yield, enhanced oil quality, and resistance to diseases.
In 2006, the researchers reported the successful sequencing of two wild
peanut ancestors separately. In their recent study, they used advanced DNA
sequencing equipment and sequences the two merged genomes in a single
commercially grown peanut to get the missing information they missed in the
previous study. The researchers also tried to recreate this genomic merger
by crossing two ancient peanut species and analyzed the results in 7
generations of offsprings. The findings showed a fascinating trend of DNA
switching and deletions that took place in the offsprings, which might be
the cause of diversity in seed size, shape, color, and other characteristics
of the current cultivated peanuts.