All posts by traceyv

First peanut genome sequenced

The International Peanut Genome Initiative—a group of multinational crop geneticists who have been working in tandem for the last several years—has successfully sequenced the peanut’s genome.

Read the entire article.

Chandran Receives Ph.D.

Photo of P Ozias-Akins & Manju Chandran

Manju Chandran received her Ph.D. degree in Horticulture at commencement exercises on May 10, 2013.

Her dissertation is entitled, “ Transgene Stability, Transposon Activation and Potential for Gene Tagging in Peanut”.

Ozias-Akins Elected Fellow of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Peggy Ozias-Akins was recently elected fellow of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

AAAS is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association.  In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide

Election as a Fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers.  Fellows are recognized for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications.

Fellow nominations may be made by:

  • the Steering Groups of the Association’s 24 sections, or
  • any three Fellows who are current AAAS members, so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee’s institution, or
  • the Chief Executive Officer.

Nominations undergo review by the Steering Groups of the Association’s sections (the Chair, Chair-Elect, Retiring Chair, Secretary, and four Members-at-Large of each section).

Each Steering Group reviews only those nominations designated for its section.  Names of Fellow nominees who are approved by the Steering Groups are presented to the AAAS Council for election.

Each nominee must receive the approval of a majority of the Steering Group members, with no more than two opposed, in order to be included in the slate of Fellow nominees that is presented to the Council for a final vote.

AAAS Fellows are elected annually by the AAAS Council for meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications. Fellows have made significant contributions in areas such as research, teaching, technology, services to professional societies,  and the communication of science to the public. The following members, presented by Section affiliation, were elected Fellows in fall 2009. AAAS congratulates them and thanks them for their service to science and technology.


Morgan and Chu Win Awards

Evelyn Perry Morgan (left) won an Award of Excellence for Technical Support and Ye (Juliet) Chu (right) won the Junior Research Scientist award at the UGA Tifton Campus Awards Ceremony on May 7, 2009.

On hand for the event were Dr. Joe Broder, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; Dr. Beverly Sparks, Associate Dean for Extension; Dr. Bob Shulstad, Associate Dean for Research; and Dr. Joe West, Assistant Dean – Tifton Campus.

Accelerated Peanut Breeding Program

Tifton, Georgia – A staple of American school lunches, snack mixes and candy, the peanut (and its value-added products) is a $2 billion/year industry in the state of Georgia. To maintain the high industry standard of the peanut, Tifton scientists are involved in cutting-edge research to improve the quality and usability of the legume.

Peggy Ozias-Akins, professor of Horticulture at the University of Georgia’s Tifton Campus and Corley Holbrook, Research Leader with USDA-ARS (based also in Tifton) are working together to efficiently and effectively utilize modern genetic tools to develop a high oleic acid version of Tifguard, a nematode-resistant cultivar released by Holbrook in 2007.

“When Tifguard was released,” remembered Holbrook, “[peanut] industry representatives and growers were extremely excited.” Along with this positive response, it quickly became evident that both segments were also interested in combining the nematode-resistant trait with the high oleic acid trait.

“Every time I would talk to groups about Tifguard, there was always a question about oleic acid content,” Holbrook commented.

Why all the interest in oleic acid content? Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid found in almost all natural fats, and, according to Ozias-Akins, a high oleic content in peanut will result in improved quality and longer-shelf life.

“Another positive aspect of oleic acid,” added Ozias-Akins, “is that it offers significant health benefits to consumers by lowering their risk of heart attack, lowering cholesterol levels and aiding in the prevention of cancer.”

Overwhelming interest in this nematode resistance/high oleic content cultivar led to a joint project between Holbrook, who utilized conventional breeding techniques to develop Tifguard, and Ozias-Akins, whose biotechnology lab conducts state-of-the-art genetics research.

Although conventional breeding techniques could have been used to develop this new peanut cultivar, combining that approach with marker-assisted selection (MAS), a process employed in Ozias-Akins’ lab, resulted in significant time savings. Marker-assisted selection is a process by which researchers are able to identify a specific gene that confers a specific trait – in this case, the trait of interest was high oleic acid content. That trait was then introduced by screening offspring for a molecular marker (piece of DNA) known to be associated with the trait rather than screening for the trait itself.

“Using the molecular markers developed in the Ozias-Akins lab [via MAS],” Holbrook explained, “we were able to embark on an accelerated breeding program. In fact, the hastened program took 26 months – versus conventional techniques which would have taken 8 to 10 years. “

“The implications of this project are numerous,” commented Ozias-Akins.

Both researchers believe that this endeavor will result in accelerated cultivar improvement, not just for nematode resistance and high oleic acid as shown in this project, but for countless other traits including size, flavor, higher yield and disease resistance.

“The sky’s the limit,” added Holbrook.

OA Lab Crew Receives Awards at Plant Center 2007 Retreat

Heqiang Huo and Yajuan Zeng, horticulture graduate students, were honored at The Plant Center’s 2007 Retreat.

Zeng’s presentation, “Comparative Analysis of Sequences and Expression of BABY BOOM-like Genes in Buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris),” won the third place presentation award while Huo’s poster, ” Retrotransposon-Based Molecular Marker Development for Apomixis in Pennisetum  squamulatum,” received a poster award. Two out of six awards at the Plant Center Retreat were from the Ozias-Akins Biotechnology Laboratory.

The Plant Center’s 2007 retreat was held at Emerald Pointe Resort & Conference Center at Lake Lanier Islands on Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26.

The Plant Center is designed to foster and support interactions among those members of The University of Georgia research community who share common interests in cellular and molecular aspects of plant growth and development, in plant genome organization and function, in the application of molecular and genetic tools to improve cultivated plants, and in organisms that interact with plants. The Plant Center hosts a regular seminar series, organizes an annual scientific retreat to encourage the development of inter-disciplinary research, and sponsors symposia and technical workshops. For more information, visit theirwebsite.