Increasing genetic resistance to pests
Peanut production requires costly inputs such as pesticides to control diseases and pests, and irrigation to maximize yield and reduce aflatoxin contamination. Peanut producers need a more cost-effective production system, which can be achieved in part by improving the genetics of the crop for host-plant resistance. Using genome sequence and trait data, UGA horticulturists identified molecular markers for early and late leaf spot resistance, nematode resistance, and seed traits and successfully used them to accelerate breeding and selection for these traits. Furthermore, a prebreeding effort has generated crosses with numerous wild relatives of peanut that harbor novel alleles for disease resistance. Application of molecular markers saves time during the selection process for prebreeding and breeding and reduces the cost to advance breeding lines by early elimination of those unlikely to possess a desired trait. More rapid deployment of improved cultivars with excellent production characteristics stacked with genetic disease resistance contributes to economic and environmental sustainability.