Tracing the ancestry of modern bread wheats

Wheat and Barley Legacy for Breeding Improvement (WHEALBI) consortium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For more than 10,000 years, the selection of plant and animal traits that are better tailored for human use has shaped the development of civilizations. During this period, bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) emerged as one of the world’s most important crops. We use exome sequencing of a worldwide panel of almost 500 genotypes selected from across the geographical range of the wheat species complex to explore how 10,000 years of hybridization, selection, adaptation and plant breeding has shaped the genetic makeup of modern bread wheats. We observe considerable genetic variation at the genic, chromosomal and subgenomic levels, and use this information to decipher the likely origins of modern day wheats, the consequences of range expansion and the allelic variants selected since its domestication. Our data support a reconciled model of wheat evolution and provide novel avenues for future breeding improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-911
Number of pages7
JournalNature Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the INRA Biological Resources Center on small grain cereals ( for providing seeds and passport data, and for establishing a wheat biorepository. The authors thank the Federal ex situ Genbank Gatersleben, Germany (IPK), the N. I. Vavilov All-Russian Research Institute of Plant Industry, Russia (VIR), Centre for Genetic Resources, WUR, Netherlands (CGN), Kyoto University, National Bioresource Project, Japan (NBRP), the Australian Winter Cereal Collection Tamworth, Australia (AWCC), the National Plant Germplasm System, USA (USDA-ARS), the International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research Cologne, Germany (MPIPZ), Germplasm Resource Unit at the John Innes Centre UK (JIC) and the Wheat and Barley Legacy for Breeding Improvement (WHEALBI) consortium for providing plant material and passport data. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/ 2007–2013) under grant agreement FP7-613556, Whealbi project ( R.W. and J.R. also acknowledge support from the Scottish Government Research Program and R.W. from the University of Dundee. H.O. acknowledges support from Çukurova University (FUA-2016–6033). K.F.X.M. acknowledges support from the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (2819103915) and the DFG (SFB924). T.L. acknowledges supports from the Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (BirdIslandGenomic project 14-CE02-0002), European Research Council (TREEPEACE project, grant agreement 339728) and the bioinformatics platform from Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées (Bioinfo Genotoul) for providing computing and storage resources. J.S. acknowledges support from the Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and FEDER Fonds Européens de Développement Régional (23000816 SRESRI 2015), the CPER contrat de plan État-région (23000892 SYMBIOSE 2016) and AgreenSkills fellowship (applicant ID 4146).

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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