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Wild emmer genome architecture and diversity elucidate wheat evolution and domestication

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Science  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6346, pp. 93-97
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0032

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Genomics and domestication of wheat

Modern wheat, which underlies the diet of many across the globe, has a long history of selection and crosses among different species. Avni et al. used the Hi-C method of genome confirmation capture to assemble and annotate the wild allotetraploid wheat (Triticum turgidum). They then identified the putative causal mutations in genes controlling shattering (a key domestication trait among cereal crops). They also performed an exome capture–based analysis of domestication among wild and domesticated genotypes of emmer wheat. The findings present a compelling overview of the emmer wheat genome and its usefulness in an agricultural context for understanding traits in modern bread wheat.

Science, this issue p. 93

Abstract

Wheat (Triticum spp.) is one of the founder crops that likely drove the Neolithic transition to sedentary agrarian societies in the Fertile Crescent more than 10,000 years ago. Identifying genetic modifications underlying wheat’s domestication requires knowledge about the genome of its allo-tetraploid progenitor, wild emmer (T. turgidum ssp. dicoccoides). We report a 10.1-gigabase assembly of the 14 chromosomes of wild tetraploid wheat, as well as analyses of gene content, genome architecture, and genetic diversity. With this fully assembled polyploid wheat genome, we identified the causal mutations in Brittle Rachis 1 (TtBtr1) genes controlling shattering, a key domestication trait. A study of genomic diversity among wild and domesticated accessions revealed genomic regions bearing the signature of selection under domestication. This reference assembly will serve as a resource for accelerating the genome-assisted improvement of modern wheat varieties.

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