Genetically Modified (GM) crops – cotton, mustards, etc.

India develops new groundnut line with desirable oil quality


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GM Groundnut

Mains level : GM Crops in India

(This news was originally published on 12th of May)

GM Groundnut

  • In collaboration with scientists from India and Africa, researchers from Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have developed improved groundnut lines for disease resistance and high oleic acid content.
  • The improvement reported development of high (up to 82%) oleic acid content lines in three popular groundnut varieties.
  • In 2018 ICRISAT developed a groundnut line that has up to 82% of oleic acid content, while linoleic and palmitic acid content decreased up to 89% and 39%, respectively.
  • A U.S. groundnut variety that has high oleic acid and very less linoleic acid was used for breeding the new line.
  • These have been extensively field tested in different parts of India and will be soon released for commercial cultivation.

Whole genome sequencing

  • Since GM technology is mired in controversy, the scientists steered clear of it.
  • ICRISAT used conventional breeding techniques and looked for genes for high oleic acid content with the help of molecular markers in the progenies to select the lines for the next generation.
  • Based on whole genome sequencing of cultivated groundnut (Arachis hypogaea), ICRISAT scientists and other institutions have found 1,944 genes related to oil content and quality.
  • These genes are responsible for fatty acid synthesis, lipid signalling and triacylglycerol (TAG) biosynthesis.

What defines a good quality groundnut?

  • Fatty acid composition defines groundnut oil quality.
  • Six saturated fatty acids including palmitic acid constitute 10%, whereas oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acid) together with linoleic acid (polyunsaturated fatty acid) constitutes nearly 80% of unsaturated fatty acid in groundnuts.
  • It is highly desirable to increase the oleic acid content and reduce both linoleic acid and palmitic acid content.
  • Groundnuts grown in India have about 55% oleic acid, about 25% linoleic acid and around 10% palmitic acid, whereas in the U.S., several groundnut varieties have 80% oleic acid and just 2-3% linoleic acid.
  • Efforts have been taken to increase the oleic acid content and reduce both linoleic and palmitic acid content for health benefits and to increase the shelf-life.

Various nutrients in groundnut

  • Excess consumption of palmitic acid increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Linoleic acid is not stable on heating and causes deterioration of foods due to oxidation with oxygen.
  • Linoleic acid also promotes formation of trans-fat.
  • On the other hand, oleic acid reduces the level of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and maintains level of high density lipoproteins (HDL).
  • Oleic acid also reduces the formation of tumour, and ameliorates inflammatory diseases.
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