Texas A&M University
The Peanut CRSP has identified the need for shorter crop duration of peanut under production efficiency, item 5, “Genetic resource conservation, particularly for wild species, and germplasm enhancement with respect to crop duration, —–.” Shorter duration (early maturing) peanut cultivars would be beneficial in many parts of the peanut growing world, developed as well as underdeveloped countries. The character is especially important in regions of West Africa where the rainy season often lasts less than 80 days. Thus, it is important that peanut cultivars be developed that emerge, grow, flower, fruit, and mature the fruit in 80 days, or less. At present only one breeding line has been identified which matures a crop in the 80 day range — GC835. Unfortunately, this line has too much variability, but is adapted to the sub-Sahel region of Africa. A purification effort might prove to be beneficial. A wild species which we collected in the Western Mato Grosso of Brazil, in 1981, has proven to be very short duration under the wet/dry season cycles common to western Brazil; very similar climatic conditions occur in West Africa. The wild species accession, Valls-Simpson-Gripp 6416, identified by Krapovickas et. al., as Arachis praecox, has a growth cycle duration as short as 45 days under the proper conditions. The conservation of genetic resources, particularly for wild species, has been identified by the Peanut CRSP as a “Priority opportunity” under the Section II. Production Efficiency. The native habitats of the wild species of Arachis are being destroyed at a rapid pace in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. It is imperative that the uncollected, unpreserved members of the Arachis genus be collected and preserved before any more accessions are forever lost. This collection effort has been underway at an intensive pace since 1976 when the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) now known as IPGRI (International Plant Genetic Resources Institute) first funded us for collection work. Since that time IBPGR sponsored teams have conducted at least 46 expeditions to collect Arachis germplasm. Some expeditions were conducted to collect only cultivated germplasm in Peru and Ecuador. The IBPGR changed their emphasis in about 1990 and since that time the USDA has sponsored four expeditions. The collection efforts have been very successful, collecting more than 800 wild Arachis accessions representing approximately 50 new species, and almost 3,000 accessions of cultivated peanut. However, there is still much collection work to be done in Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. (See appended map.) Recently CENARGEN/EMBRAPA in Brazil, was funded through the CFC (Common Fund for Commodities) and the World Bank for a five year project in collaboration with ICRISAT and CIAT for collection, preservation, and evaluation of wild Arachis in all the Latin American countries where the wild peanut is native (Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay). Participation of individuals from developed countries was mentioned in the grant, however, transportation to and from the country of collection, per diem, and preservation of the materials in the USA were not covered by the grant. Thus, this proposal is to cover our transportation to and from South America, per diem, and for preservation of the materials so they will be available for distribution and utilization. The CFC grant, the Peanut CRSP, and collaborators from ICRISAT, CIAT, and so many other different agencies, offers an opportunity to develop a program with a unique international flavor, from funding to participation. There will be opportunities to promote insitu germplasm preservation and other ideas relating to documentation, collection, preservation, and utilization of germplasm resources in developing countries. Countries referenced also happen to be those of origin and primary distribution of many of the wild species of Arachis. The destruction of native habitats of the wild species of Arachis has reached a frenzied pace in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. In addition, it has become increasingly difficult to get permits to take newly collected materials out of many of the Latin American countries because of new biodiversity agreements and laws. These two points (ie., habitat destruction and rights of ownership) make it exceedingly clear that we, in the United States of America, need to preserve any wild Arachis which we have, since we may have great difficulty obtaining more. It has been assumed by most breeders of peanuts in the USA that preservation of the wild Arachis is well covered by the USDA project at Griffin, GA. Although the project has progressed well, the USDA administration has decided that it is too expensive to maintain a backup to the collection housed at Griffin. This is a most short sighted view, similar to an ostrich burying its head in the sand to escape danger. One hurricane, one tornado, one break in a gas main on a cold winter day, one act of terrorism or simply a teen-age prank or act of vandalism, and the collection could be destroyed in a matter of minutes. To those of us who have given so much to collect and preserve this material it is a frightening thought.