Wheat domestication in light of haplotype analyses of the Brittle rachis 1 genes (BTR1-A and BTR1-B)

Moran Nave, Raz Avni, Esra Çakır, Vitaly Portnoy, Hanan Sela, Mohammad Pourkheirandish, Hakan Ozkan, Iago Hale, Takao Komatsuda, Jan Dvorak, Assaf Distelfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wheat domestication was a milestone in the rise of agrarian societies in the Fertile Crescent. As opposed to the freely dispersing seeds of its tetraploid progenitor wild emmer, the hallmark trait of domesticated wheat is intact, harvestable spikes. During domestication, wheat acquired recessive loss-of-function mutations in the Brittle Rachis 1 genes, both in the A genome (BTR1-A) and B genome (BTR1-B). In this study, we probe the geographical provenances of these mutations via haplotype analyses of a collection of wild and domesticated accessions. Our results show that the precursor of the domesticated haplotype of BTR1-A was detected in 32% of the wild accessions gathered throughout the Levant, from central Israel to central Turkey. In contrast, the precursor of the domesticated haplotype of BTR1-B, which carries a distinct 11 bp deletion in the promoter region, was found in only 10% of the tested wild accessions, all from the Southern Levant. Moreover, we identified of a single wild emmer accession in Southern Levant that carries the progenitor haplotypes for both BTR1-A and BTR1-B genes. These observations suggest that at least part of the emmer domestication process occurred in Southern Levant, contrary to the widely held view that the northern part of the Fertile Crescent was the center of wheat domestication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-199
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Science
StatePublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Brittle rachis
  • Domestication
  • Haplotype analysis
  • Progenitor
  • Wild emmer wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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