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Brazilians map DNA from peanut ancestor

Scientists from Brazil and six other countries - the US, China, India, Australia, Japan and Israel - sequenced the genome of wild peanut plants collected in Bolivia and Argentina. Genetic mapping revealed that the species of peanut cultivated today is 99.96% similar to its ancestors, grown by pre-Columbian peoples. The study was published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Genetics on February 22.

 

According to University of Brasilia professor and lead author of the paper, David Bertioli, comparing the sequences of the peanut genome allows to know how, where and when the parental species came

together to create the variety cultivated by farmers today. The article describes the trajectory of one of a wild peanut transported - most likely by the region's first farmers - to what is now southeastern Bolivia. In this place, it crossed with another wild species of the region and gave origin to the modern peanut.

The genomic sequences produced will also contribute to the identification of genes that confer resistance to the gnath nematode, a pest harmful to the peanut crop. The thousands of genes that make up these sequences are also being used to identify molecular markers associated with characteristics of interest for agricultural research, such as resistance to fungal diseases, oil quality and drought tolerance.

 

The result of the work is available to the world scientific community and its use will enable advances in the development of more productive and resistant peanut varieties.

 

Nature Genetics - February 2016