Durum wheat genome reveals the signature of 10,000 years of selection

The domestication of wild emmer wheat ~10,000 years ago by early agrarian societies have led to the selection of domesticated emmer and subsequently of durum wheat through a process of selection for non-brittle rachis and free-threshing forms. Durum wheat and became established as a prominent crop only ~1,500-2,000 years ago. We have completed the 10.45 Gb assembly of the 14 chromosomes of the modern DW cultivar 'Svevo' and provides, via comparison with the wild emmer assembly, an account of the genome-wide modifications imposed by 10,000 years of selection and breeding on the genome architecture of tetraploid wheat. A number of regions that were under selection during the domestication of wild emmer or the subsequent selection of durum wheat have been identified. Furthermore, we have projected on the durum wheat genome about 1,500 QTLs for morphological phenological and quality traits, grain yield components and disease resistance reported from published biparental mapping or GWAS. NBS-LRR genes are prominently involved in signaling and plant disease resistance. The durum wheat genome contains more than 66,000 genes and among them we annotated about 1,500 complete NBS-LRR genes. A similar number was found in the wild emmer genomes, nevertheless the comparison of the two genomes has identified some NBS-LRR genes specific for durum wheat. The availability of the complete genome of durum wheat will speed up the identification and the isolation of new resistance genes as well as the breeding for high-yielding and more resilient cultivars.

CREA Research Centre for Genomics and Bioinformatics
,International Durum Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium
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