You don’t put all your eggs into one basket or your farm into one crop. It’s a dangerous gamble that could lose you everything. Following that same thought, you don’t put all your wild species in one place or facility.
In talking with retiring National Peanut Board CEO and president Bob Parker for the sponsored Research Review, which can be found on page 11, we covered the topic of extending grower dollars by co-funding projects with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. That sent us off on a tangent, but an interesting and very timely one.
Bob said he had a conversation a while back with Texas A&M AgriLife Emeritus peanut breeder Charles Simpson about the collection of wild peanut species kept at the facility in Stephenville, Texas. Essentially, the conversation went something like, “What would happen to the wild species core collection if a tornado hit, and it was lost?”
To say that collection is invaluable is an understatement. Now that we have mapped the peanut genome and are on the cusp of using marker-assisted selection of resources from wild species to introduce resistance to leaf spot and other diseases to go along with the high-oleic trait and nematode resistance, to lose the collection that may hold the answer to aflatoxin, drought or flower shed from increased climate would be devastating. It is not possible to recreate that collection from scratch. What Dr. Simpson did in collecting those wild species would not be done today.
The answer was a co-funded project between NPB and NIFA that only cost enough to pay a graduate student to assist Dr. Simpson in replicating the catalog of wild species.
As Bob said, “A small, inexpensive project of about $15,000 is protecting the future of the peanut industry. Within those wild species are the answers to many problems.”
Besides replicating the species, they are also being sent to other places to protect the collection and not keep all our “eggs in one basket.” That is money well spent.