To identify the genomic regions and genes associated with aflatoxin resistance in groundnut using a combination of genomics approaches, a new research project was launched. Aflatoxins are among the most potent mycotoxins, carcinogenic and teratogenic compounds. Groundnut and maize are the most susceptible to aflatoxin contamination.
One of the main objectives of the new project is to validate the identified genes and develop diagnostic markers so that they can be deployed in molecular breeding for developing superior lines with enhanced aflatoxin resistance in addition to other desired agronomic and productivity traits.
The project ‘Identification of markers and genomic regions associated with aflatoxin resistance in groundnut’ is funded by the Mars Inc., USA, for a period of three years. A five-member delegation led by Dr Victor Nwosu, Technical Director, Mars Inc., attended the project launch meeting.
“Consumption of contaminated groundnuts is silently deteriorating the immune system of the consumers which has profound adverse impact on human health, even more than estimated. The outcome of this project will help in developing aflatoxin-free groundnut varieties, to provide high quality raw material to develop export quality products,” said Dr Nwosu.
Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, highlighted the importance of the proposed research for finding genetic solutions to aflatoxin contamination thus providing a sustainable solution to this menace and helping in developing aflatoxin-free groundnut varieties so that the poorest people can afford to have safe and healthy groundnuts for consumption.
Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director-Genetic Gains and Principal Investigator of the project, and
Dr Manish Pandey, Scientist-Groundnut Genomics, Research Program-Genetic Gains, spoke of ongoing work with Mars Inc. in another project which targets developing short duration, drought tolerant, foliar disease resistant and good oil quality groundnut varieties using genomics tools with high level of success and are confident on developing the required improved varieties very soon.
ICRISAT has successfully deployed marker-assisted backcrossing (MABC) for developing improved lines for foliar disease resistance and oil quality in groundnut. Several of these lines are under multi-location trials in India for potential release as superior varieties.