Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Publish the First Genetic Radiography of Pasta Wheat from 21 Mediterranean Countries

March 8, 2017

A team of scientists from Spain, together with colleagues from the University of Granada (UGR), has carried out the first durum wheat genetic, phenotypic, and geographic adaptation study to date. The research team has phenotyped a collection of 172 of durum wheat local varieties (landraces) from 21 Mediterranean countries, cultivated along with 20 modern varieties in 6 environments of the north and south of Spain.

Phenotypic traits studied in this work include, among others, flowering time, biomass, drought resistance, foliar architecture, photosynthesis, proteins, yield, and yield components. The genetic (or genotyping) study was carried out with 44 microsatellites (SSRs) that identified 448 alleles (each of the alternative forms that the same gene may have, which differ in their sequence and that can be manifested in specific modifications of the function that said gene has). Out of 448 alleles, 226 appeared with a frequency lower than 5%, and there were 10 alleles per locus on average (a fixed position on a chromosome, such as the position of a gene or a genetic marker).

The statistical study allowed the division of wheat into five genetic subpopulations, one with all modern cultivars, and another four closely related to the geographical origin of local varieties: Eastern Mediterranean, Eastern Balkans and Turkey, Western Balkans and Egypt, and Western Mediterranean. Results of the study showed that with the correct amount of markers, correctly distributing them in the genome, and adequate phenotyping, great similarities can be found between genetic distances and the adaptive response of durum wheat to different environments, including those derived from climate change.

For more details, read the news article at the UGR website.