Genome evolution of wild cereal diversity and prospects for crop improvement

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Genomic and proteomic diversity provide the basis of evolutionary change by natural selection under abiotic and biotic stresses, and the human-driven evolutionary process of domestication by artificial selection. Described here are some of the regional and local genomic and proteomic long-term multidisciplinary studies conducted at the Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Israel, during 1975-2005 (see publications at il), involving both wild barley, Hordeum spontaneum, the progenitor of cultivated barley and wild emmer sheat, Triticum dicoccoides, the progenitor of modern tetraploid and hexaploid cultivated wheat. Wild cereals harbour large amounts of as yet untapped adaptive genetic resources for crop improvement (resistances against abiotic and biotic stresses, micronutrient metal deficiencies, storage proteins, amylases and photosynthetic yield, among others). The adaptive genomic diversity of wild cereals, including cryptic beneficial alleles at specific quantitative trait loci of T. dicoccoides and H. spontaneum is the best genomic resource to be conserved in situ and ex situ for utilization by classical and modern biotechnologies, to enrich the genetically impoverished and stress-vulnerable food cultivars, advance crop improvement, and thereby increase and optimize world food production in a second genetic green revolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-46
Number of pages11
JournalPlant Genetic Resources: Characterisation and Utilisation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I thank my colleagues A. Beiles, A. Korol and W. Song for reading and commenting on the manuscript. I also thank the Ancell-Teicher Research Foundation for Molecular Genetics and Evolution for financial support.


  • Crop improvement
  • Environmental stress
  • Genomic diversity
  • Proteomic diversity
  • Wild cereal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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