Adaptive evolution of benzoxazinoids in wild emmer wheat, triticum dicoccoides, at "Evolution Canyon", mount carmel, Israel

Yuval Ben-Abu, Avigdor Beiles, Dvir Flom, Eviatar Nevo

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Background "Evolution Canyon" (ECI) at Lower Nahal Oren, Mount Carmel, Israel, is an optimal natural microscale model for unraveling evolution-in-action, highlighting the evolutionary processes of biodiversity evolution, adaptation, and incipient sympatric speciation. A major model organism in ECI is the tetraploid wild emmer wheat, Triticum dicoccoides (TD), the progenitor of cultivated emmer and durum wheat. TD displays dramatic interslope adaptive evolutionary divergence on the tropical, savannoid-hot and dry south-facing, "African" slope (AS), and on the temperate, forested, cool and humid, north-facing, "European" slope (ES), separated on average by 250 m. From the perspective of chemical evolution and metabolomics, it is important to unravel interslope divergence in biologically relevant secondary metabolites between the abutting slope populations. Here, in TD we examined hydroxamic acid (Hx), which is a family of secondary cereal metabolites, and plays a major role in defending the plant against fungi, insects and weeds. Results Our examination revealed that higher concentrations of DIBOA and DIMBOA were found in seedlings growing in the same greenhouse from seeds collected from the cool and humid forested ES, whereas the seedlings of seeds collected from the savannoid AS (both in root and shoot tissues), showed no DIMBOA. Remarkably, only DIBOA appears in both shoots and roots of the AS seedlings. It rises to a peak and then decreases in both organs and in seedlings from both slopes. The DIMBOA, which appears only in the ES seedlings, rises to a peak and decreases in the shoot, but increased and remained in a plateau in the root, till the end of the experiment. Conculsions/Significance The results suggest stronger genetic resistance of defense compounds DIBOA and DIMBOA against biotic stresses (fungi and other pathogens) by ES seedlings. However, AS seedlings responded earlier but were to the same biotic stresses. The genetic difference found in AS seedlings was caused by the main adaptive selection in AS, which was against climatic, abiotic stresses, and was weaker, or not at all, against biotic stresses. The distinct genetic interslope differences appear important and is very significant and are elaborated in the discussion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0190424
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Ben-Abu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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