Durum wheat genome highlights past domestication signatures and future improvement targets

Marco Maccaferri, Neil S. Harris, Sven O. Twardziok, Raj K. Pasam, Heidrun Gundlach, Manuel Spannagl, Danara Ormanbekova, Thomas Lux, Verena M. Prade, Sara G. Milner, Axel Himmelbach, Martin Mascher, Paolo Bagnaresi, Primetta Faccioli, Paolo Cozzi, Massimiliano Lauria, Barbara Lazzari, Alessandra Stella, Andrea Manconi, Matteo GnocchiMarco Moscatelli, Raz Avni, Jasline Deek, Sezgi Biyiklioglu, Elisabetta Frascaroli, Simona Corneti, Silvio Salvi, Gabriella Sonnante, Francesca Desiderio, Caterina Marè, Cristina Crosatti, Erica Mica, Hakan Özkan, Benjamin Kilian, Pasquale De Vita, Daniela Marone, Reem Joukhadar, Elisabetta Mazzucotelli, Domenica Nigro, Agata Gadaleta, Shiaoman Chao, Justin D. Faris, Arthur T.O. Melo, Mike Pumphrey, Nicola Pecchioni, Luciano Milanesi, Krystalee Wiebe, Jennifer Ens, Ron P. MacLachlan, John M. Clarke, Andrew G. Sharpe, Chu Shin Koh, Kevin Y.H. Liang, Gregory J. Taylor, Ron Knox, Hikmet Budak, Anna M. Mastrangelo, Steven S. Xu, Nils Stein, Iago Hale, Assaf Distelfeld, Matthew J. Hayden, Roberto Tuberosa, Sean Walkowiak, Klaus F.X. Mayer, Aldo Ceriotti, Curtis J. Pozniak, Luigi Cattivelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The domestication of wild emmer wheat led to the selection of modern durum wheat, grown mainly for pasta production. We describe the 10.45 gigabase (Gb) assembly of the genome of durum wheat cultivar Svevo. The assembly enabled genome-wide genetic diversity analyses revealing the changes imposed by thousands of years of empirical selection and breeding. Regions exhibiting strong signatures of genetic divergence associated with domestication and breeding were widespread in the genome with several major diversity losses in the pericentromeric regions. A locus on chromosome 5B carries a gene encoding a metal transporter (TdHMA3-B1) with a non-functional variant causing high accumulation of cadmium in grain. The high-cadmium allele, widespread among durum cultivars but undetected in wild emmer accessions, increased in frequency from domesticated emmer to modern durum wheat. The rapid cloning of TdHMA3-B1 rescues a wild beneficial allele and demonstrates the practical use of the Svevo genome for wheat improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-895
Number of pages11
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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