Director, Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics & Genomics
Department of Horticulture
College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences
As the world’s population increases, so do concerns about food supply and sufficient land for growing essential crops.
The world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2040, and the United Nations is warning that food production will need to double in developing countries to keep pace.
At the University of Georgia, Peggy Ozias-Akins’ research on the unassuming but highly nutritious peanut plant could provide valuable insights on how to feed a growing global population.
An important crop in Georgia’s economy, peanuts also provide valuable and novel insights into the molecular building blocks of plants.
“The peanut is a recently evolved crop,” says Ozias-Akins, who directs Georgia’s Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics. “The more we learn about the peanut genome and variations that do or do not exist, the more we have an idea of how to target specific DNA for selection or editing.”
This has critical implications for the state and larger global communities as Ozias-Akins and her team work to improve this nutrient-rich food. A major crop in Africa, India, and China, peanut is vital for feeding the malnourished in developing countries because of its high levels of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.
“The research we’re doing to improve plant varieties increases environmental and economic sustainability of the peanut in Georgia and the world.”