Characterizing Agronomic and Shoot Morphological Diversity across 263 Wild Emmer Wheat Accessions

Shanjida Rahman, Shahidul Islam, Eviatar Nevo, Md Atik Us Saieed, Qier Liu, Rajeev Kumar Varshney, Wujun Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wild emmer, the direct progenitor of modern durum and bread wheat, has mostly been studied for grain quality, biotic, and abiotic stress-related traits. Accordingly, it should also have a certain amount of diversity for morphological and agronomic traits. Despite having a high chance of huge diversity, it has not been deeply explored. In the current study, 263 wild emmer accessions collected from different regions of Israel, Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria were characterized for a total of 19 agronomic and shoot morphological traits. Three trials were carried out in Western Australia, which demonstrated a large variation in these traits. The average phenotypic diversity (H’) was 0.91 as quantified by Shannon’s diversity index. A high heritability was recorded for most of the traits, where biomass/plant and yield/plant were identified as the most potential traits. Correlation analysis revealed several significant associations between traits, including significant positive correlation between yield and tiller number, first leaf area, spike length, and biomass/plant. The principal component analysis (PCA) demonstrated that most of the traits contributed to the overall observed variability. The cluster analysis categorized 263 accessions into five clusters on average. On the other hand, accessions were categorized into eight populations based on the collection region and a comparative analysis demonstrated considerable variations between populations for plant height, spike length, and flag leaf area. Despite the low yield, several wild emmer accessions demonstrated superior performance compared to modern bread wheat cultivars, when selection was based on combining yield with multiple traits. These observations indicate that wild emmer contains a broad gene pool for several agronomic and shoot morphological traits, which can be utilized for bread and durum wheat improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number759
JournalAgriculture (Switzerland)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • diversity
  • multivariate analysis
  • shoot morphological traits
  • wheat improvement
  • wild emmer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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