Oil Crops Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Wuhan, 430062, China. Email: [email protected]

Peanut or groundnut is an important source of plant oil and protein worldwide. The oil content in peanut seeds ranges 45-60% and protein ranges 22-35% in different varieties (Sun 1998). Globally, peanut is planted in various enviornments with different soils, moisture, cropping patterns, biotic and abiotic stresses and economic and social status in more than 100 countries between latitudes 40ºN and 40ºS (Liao and Holbrook 2007). In 2010, the global sowing area under peanut was 24.01 million hectares with a total production of 37.95 million tons thus reaching a productivity of 1,581 kg/ha (FAO 2010). During the fi rst decade (2001-2010) of the 21st century, the global peanut harvested area and production increased by 4.05 and 5.78%, respectively while India had the largest peanut sowing area (6 million ha in average) and China had the largest production (14.24 million tons in average) (FAO 2010). Other important peanut producing countries are Nigeria, the USA, Myanmar, Senegal, Indonesia, Sudan, Argentina and Vietnam. Approximately 53% of the total global peanut production is crushed for edible oil, 32% is used for confectionery consumption and the remaining 15% is used for animal feed and seed (Dwivedi et al. 2003). The current utilization ratio of peanut in the world would not change much in the coming decade and the crop will continue to be a major vegetable oil source in certain developing countries especially in the largest peanut producing countries such as India and China where edible oil supply is likely still in shortage even though most of the peanut is used as direct food consumption in a few developed countries where peanut is grown.