Wild emmer: Genetic resources, gene mapping and potential for wheat improvement

Weilong Xie, Eviatar Nevo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Wild emmer, Triticum dicoccoides, the progenitor of cultivated wheat, harbors rich genetic resources for wheat improvement. They include many agronomic traits such as abiotic stress tolerances (salt, drought and heat), biotic stress tolerances (powdery mildew, rusts, and Fusarium head blight), grain protein quality and quantity, and micronutrient concentrations (Zn, Fe, and Mn). In this review, we summarize (1) traits and controlling genes identified and mapped in T. dicoccoides; and (2) the genes transferred to cultivated wheat from T. dicoccoides. These genes, controlling important agronomic traits such as disease resistance, high protein and micronutrient content, should contribute to wheat production and food nutrition. However, most of the rich genetic reservoir in wild emmer remains untapped, highlighting the need for further exploration and utilization for long-term wheat breeding programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-614
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We thank Drs Junhua Peng, Youchun Li, Avigdor Beiles, and Robert McIntosh for valuable suggestions and comments to improve the manuscript. This study was supported by the Ancell-Teicher Research Foundation for Genetics and Molecular Evolution and the Israeli Discount Bank Chair of Evolutionary Biology.


  • Gene introgression
  • Gene mapping
  • Genetic resources
  • Marker-assisted selection
  • Triticum dicoccoides
  • Wheat improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture


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