Dr. Nino Brown is an Assistant Research Scientist at the University of Georgia (UGA). He obtained his master’s degree and Ph. D. in Plant Breeding with a specialty in cotton from UGA. After graduation, he spent some time in the private sector as a cotton breeder. Proceeding this, he took a post-doctoral position under Dr. Bill Branch, the peanut breeder at UGA. Now he is a faculty member as a peanut breeder and works alongside Dr. Branch.
Brown's position is housed within the Crop and Soil Sciences Department. Dr. Branch and Brown’s primary mission is to develop new seed varieties for growers in Georgia and beyond.
He has three primary goals within his research program. The first is introgression of disease resistance genes from various germplasm sources. Over the years, scientists have developed new disease-resistant germplasm from either wild peanut species or by chance. He is integrating these resistance genes into more agronomically suitable and competitive peanut varieties. The second is mapping genes and developing DNA markers for things like new disease resistance genes, plant vigor, peanut shelling efficiency, and quality. By mapping these genes, they are hoping to make the process of breeding cheaper, better, and faster to improve genetic gain. And the third is developing and applying high throughput phenotyping methods. Collaborating with Jing Zhang from the turf grass breeding program, they are developing new methods using drones to measure breeding lines, validating, and incorporating these methods into the breeding pipeline. Each of these goals aims to maintain or accelerate the current rate of genetic improvement in peanut.
The results for the industry will ideally be the production of new varieties that require fewer pesticides, grow more vigorously, are able to achieve higher yields, and ultimately give a higher return on growers’ investment. They follow common growing practices to allow for easy adoption of new varieties for growers.
One of the most exciting projects that Brown is working on is a ground-based phenotyping robot that is completely autonomous. It will travel through the field and take highly detailed measurements of the plants. The robot is funded by the Georgia Peanut Commission and is currently being developed by Charlie Li’s Bio-sensing and Instrumentation Lab in Athens, Georgia.
Brown’s research is funded by the Georgia Peanut Commission, the UGA Research Foundation, Georgia Seed Development, the Peanut Research Foundation, and the National Peanut Board through the Southern Research Initiative.
Written by: Caraline Coombs