Charles Chen, an associate professor and peanut breeder in the Auburn University College of Agriculture’s Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, was recently recognized by the International Peanut Genome Initiative for his contributions to ongoing efforts to establish links between genetics and key traits in cultivated peanuts.
Chen and nine other U.S.-based colleagues are part of the Peanut Genome Consortium, an international coalition of scientists and stakeholders and an extension of the genome initiative. Since 2012, the consortium has worked to promote peanut crop competitiveness by creating molecular breeding approaches that improve peanut yields and overall breed quality and optimize disease and insect resistance and tolerance of environmental stresses. This technology will ultimately increase peanut growers’ profitability in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Chen’s involvement in the consortium has been substantial, including a Peanut Foundation–funded project that ultimately established protocols for physiological and agronomic measurements of drought tolerance in peanuts. Chen is also credited with purifying the U.S. peanut mini-core germplasm collection, which resulted in a collection of genetically homogenous materials that have been utilized in further research around the globe.
Currently, he is working to phenotype the U.S. peanut mini-core, describing such traits as yield, seed size, grade, resistance to early and late leaf spot and tomato spotted wilt virus, seed chemistry and nutrient quality. This work is likely to result in the development of information that can be used by breeding programs for the development of improved peanut cultivars.