Genetic polymorphisms of α- and β-amylase isozymes in wild emmer wheat, Triticum dicoccoides, in Israel

E. Nevo, K. Nishikawa, Y. Furuta, Y. Gonokami, A. Beiles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


α- and β-amylase isozyme diversity was studied electrophoretically by thin-layer polyacrylamide gel isoelectrofocusing in the tetraploid wild emmer wheat, Triticum dicoccoides, the progenitor of all cultivated wheats. We analyzed 225 plants from 23 populations encompassing the ecological spectrum of T. dicoccoides in Israel. The results were as follows: (a) Band and multilocus genotype polymorphisms abound and vary within and between the four amylase components: malt, green (α-amylases), and dry and germinating seeds (β-amylases). (b) The number of bands of malt, green, and dry and germinating seeds were 20, 6, 11 and 13, respectively, generating 40, 6, 51, and 51 patterns or multilocus genotypes (MGP), respectively. The MGPs vary drastically within and between populations, from monomorphic in some populations with a single pattern to highly polymorphic ones, (c) Mean He values for malt, green, and germinating and dry seeds are 0.053, 0.055, 0.088, and 0.077, respectively; mean number of bands per individual was 11.8, 4.4, 7.6, and 4.0, respectively, (d) The percentages of 50 bands and 148 multilocus genotype patterns (MGP) (in parenthesis) were classified into widespread, sporadic, and localized: 84.4 (10.8), 8.9 (12.2), 6.7 (77.0), respectively. Notably, 89.2% of the patterns were not widespread, but sporadic and localized, (e) The mean value of genetic distances among populations (Nei's D) for the four amylase groups is D = 0.136, 0.175, 0.288 and 0.307, respectively, not displaying geographical correlates. (f) Most of the α- and β-amylase diversity is between populations (Gst = 68-75%). (g) Significant environmental correlates occur between either bands or patterns and climatic diversity (water and primarily temperature factors). (h) Significant associations of multilocus amylase bands occur across Israel. Like-wise, significant gametic phase disequilibria, D, occur within populations and are positively correlated with climatic variables, primarily that of temperature, (i) Discriminant analyses correctly classified (95-100%) the 23 wild emmer populations into their ecogeographical region and soil type. (j) Autocorrelation analysis showed that there is no correlation between bands and geographic distance and excluded migration as a major factor of amylase differentiation. These results suggest that diversifying climatic and edaphic natural selection rather than stochastisity or migration is the major evolutionary force driving amylase differentiation at both the single and multilocus levels. Furthermore, wild emmer harbors high levels of α- and β-amylase diversity both as single bands and as multilocus adaptive genetic patterns. These are exploitable both as genetic markers for quantitative loci (QTLs) and as adaptive genetic resources to improve wheat germination and growth through classical breeding and/or biotechnology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1029-1042
Number of pages14
JournalTheoretical And Applied Genetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 1993


  • Allozyme polymorphisms
  • Amylases
  • Natural selection
  • Triticum dicoccoides
  • Wheat improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Biotechnology


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