Genetic diversity for drought resistance in wild emmer wheat and its ecogeographical associations

Z. Peleg, T. Fahima, S. Abbo, T. Krugman, E. Nevo, D. Yakir, Y. Saranga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wild emmer wheat (Triticum turgidum spp. dicoccoides (Körn.) Thell.), the tetraploid progenitor of cultivated wheat, is a potential source for various agronomical traits, including drought resistance. The objectives of this study were to characterize (1) the genetic diversity for drought resistance in wild emmer wheat, and (2) the relationship between drought responses of the wild emmer germplasm and the ecogeographical parameters of its collection sites. A total of 110 wild emmer accessions consisting of 25 populations and three control durum wheat cultivars were examined under two irrigation regimes, well-watered ('wet') and water-limited ('dry'). Wide genetic diversity was found both between and within the wild emmer populations in most variables under each treatment. A considerable number of the wild emmer accessions exhibited an advantage in productivity (spike and total dry matter) over their cultivated counterparts. Most wild emmer wheat accessions exhibited a greater carbon isotope ratio (δ13C, indicating higher water-use efficiency) under the dry treatment and higher plasticity of δ13C relative to the cultivated controls, which may have contributed to the drought adaptations in the former. The most outstanding drought-tolerance capacity (in term of productivity under the dry treatment and susceptibility indices) was detected in wild emmer populations originated from hot dry locations. The results suggest that wild emmer has the potential to improve drought resistance in cultivated wheat.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-191
Number of pages16
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Carbon isotope ratio
  • Drought response
  • Triticum spp.
  • Wild germplasm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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