New insights into the range, morphology, and natural hybridization of wild Lactuca aculeata in Israel

Alex Beharav, Souad Khalifa, Eviatar Nevo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years we initiated extensive studies on the characterization of the population structure of wild Lactuca relatives (WLRs) originating from their center of origin and diversity in Southwest Asia. The objectives of our research program are related to the identification, collection, distribution, conservation and sustainable use of these unique plant genetic resources (PGR) for breeding. Natural populations of Lactuca aculeata Boiss., a wild lettuce, closely related and fully inter-fertile with cultivated lettuce, sativa L., were identified throughout northeastern Israel. The collection includes 485 seed samples, which is likely the largest and most diverse collection of this important WLR. Seeds were collected from 46 locations, representing its ecogeographic distribution in northeastern Israel. Together with 14 additional observed localities, we recorded our observations from a total of 60 native locations of L. aculeata. Thus, we assume that northeastern Israel is an ecological domain where natural L. aculeata populations can be found. The analyzed data allowed us to specify the borders of the growing area in the region, as well as to describe the ecological features of the habitats and altitude distribution of natural L. aculeata within the studied area. Notably, our data included new findings of native locations of L. aculeata on the western side of the watershed in Israel. Selected morphological characteristics, from the regeneration of 185 samples, verified the identity of all except one as L. aculeata. Some progenies (0.27%) of the original collected plants were identified as hybrids of L. aculeata x L. serriola.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
JournalIsrael Journal of Plant Sciences
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
AB wishes to thank Rijk Zwaan (De Lier, The Netherlands) for providing greenhouse facilities as well as support in assessment and cultivation; Mrs. Irit Zuk-Kovtee (Rosh-Pinna) for her help in identifying as well as collecting seeds, her guidance to L. aculeata’s natural locations in Rosh-Pinna – Zefat region, and providing observations of some morphological differences between L. aculeata and L. serriola plants ( , in Hebrew); Mrs. Yafa Kaplinski-Avraham (Poriyya, Newe Oved) and Mr. Ran Lotan (Shefer) for identifying and seed collecting; Mr. Yoav Gertmann (Yagur), Dr. Oz Golan (Afeka Center for Material and Processes Engineering, Tel Aviv), Mrs. Tamar Katz (Malkiya), and Mr. Shmuel Klain (Haspin) for their identifying and guidance to L. aculeata’s natural populations; Mrs. Ofra Friedmann (Ofra), Mr. Daniel Levi (Ramat-Gan), Mr. David Malka (Peki’in Hadasha), Mr. Amos Sabah (Kocav Hasha’ar), and Mr. Ya’akov Sharvit (Shilo) for their efforts in looking for L. aculeata natural populations in new localities. We thank the Israel Gene Bank (IGB), Agriculture Research Organization, Volcani Center, Rishon LeZion, and the Geographic Information System (GIS) Center, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (HUOJ), Israel, for sharing their plant observation points; Dr. Noam Halfon (Senior GIS Specialist, IMS), Ms. Edna Guk and Mr. Adi Ben-Nun (GIS center, HUOJ) for extraction of eco-geographical data. Special thanks to Ms. Edna Guk for the production of . EN thanks the Ancell-Teicher Research Foundation for Genetics and Molecular Evolution for financial support.

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2018.


  • Crop wild relatives
  • Distribution
  • Genetic diversity
  • Habitats
  • Wild lettuce

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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