Students, schools begin the WIREGRASS Peanut Project

By: Emily Adelman

From a partnership to peanuts in the ground, the HudsonAlpha Wiregrass is off to a quick and educational start.

Last year, HudsonAlpha announced the expansion of its physical footprint outside of the Rocket City, to the Peanut Capital of the World. The Institute launched the HudsonAlpha Wiregrass initiative, in partnership with the city of Dothan, Alabama and surrounding areas in southeast Alabama, called the Wiregrass region. The public-private collaboration extends HudsonAlpha’s agricultural focus in the region through agricultural research, economic development and genomics education. 

HudsonAlpha Wiregrass is using the power of genomics to develop more drought-and-disease resistant peanut varieties and other agriculturally important crops in the Wiregrass region. The first-of-its-kind research and education collaboration allows local high school students to gain real-life research experience while helping create the new peanuts.  

Students with Dothan City Schools and Houston County Schools are participating in a peanut breeding program this spring called the WIREGRASS Peanut Project. Students are planting peanuts in March, extracting DNA from those peanuts in April, and analyzing the peanut DNA data in May. The project is led by HudsonAlpha Faculty Investigator Josh Clevenger, PhD, and HudsonAlpha Educational Outreach leaders.

HudsonAlpha’s genomics education will connect Wiregrass schools, career and technical education programs, Wallace Community College and the larger ag-tech industry through student experiences and workforce development initiatives. Additional public education opportunities will introduce genomic concepts and technologies to Wiregrass communities. Genomics research will involve collaborations with local farmers, high school agriculture programs, Auburn University and others.

Learn more about the HudsonAlpha Wiregrass here.