The Evolution and Diversity of Modern Wheats

Worldwide, wheat is one of the most important food crops to mankind and is now grown on more land than any other cereal crop. They are the product of a complicated history whose origins can be traced back to pre-history. This demonstration presents living examples of the sequence of hybridization events between different wild grasses that have occurred over time and the range of distinct cultivated forms of wheat that have been developed through selection from the start of agrarian farming to the examples of heritage wheats grown in the UK from the mid 1800s and the earliest introduction of the semi-dwarf habit into a UK bread wheat.

The core of this demonstration shows the progression of hybridization events between representatives of the wild species. These events occurred naturally and led to the combining of the AA, BB and DD genomes, culminated in the 42 chromosomes present in hexaploid bread wheat.

Fanning out either side of this core are representatives of the most distinct morphological types or varieties of tetrapliod and hexaploid wheats. Along the right side is a display of iconic UK wheats from examples of early landraces through step change varieties of modern plant breeding era to the top variety of today.

Demonstration plot layout

Demonstration plot layout

Key to plots in the demonstration;

    Species Accession # Genome

  1. Aegilops speltoides   2140002 B genome donor          BB?
  2. Ae. tauschii           2220007 D genome donor          DD
  3. Triticum urartu 1010001 wild Einkorn wheat      AA
  4. T. monococcum           1040005 Einkorn wheat AA
  5. T. dicoccoides          1060022 Wild Emmer wheat       AABB
  6. T. dicoccum      1070024 Emmer wheat             AABB
  7. T. paleocolchicum       1130001 Georgian wheat          AABB
  8. T. polonicum            1100001 Polish wheat            AABB
  9. T. turanicum            1110001 Khorasan wheat          AABB
  10. T. carthlicum           1090001 Persian wheat           AABB
  11. T. turgidum             W1022 Rivet wheat             AABB
  12. T. durum                1180111 Macaroni wheat          AABB
  13. T. durum                W8612 cv. Ambral (modern)     AABB
  14. Primary hexaploid  7010073 (Synthetic 6x)          AABBDD
  15. T. spelta               1220017 Spelt wheat            AABBDD
  16. T. vavilovi             1230001 Vavilov’s wheat        AABBDD
  17. T. macha                1240001 Makha wheat             AABBDD
  18. T. compactum 1200007 Club wheat              AABBDD
  19. T. sphaerococcum       1210011 Indian Shot wheat       AABBDD
  20. T. aestivum             W987 cv. Red Lammas        AABBDD
  21. T. aestivum             W10031 cv. Orange Devon Blue Rough Chaff AABBDD
  22. T. aestivum             W2 cv. April Bearded (1838) AABBDD
  23. T. aestivum            1190853 cv. Browick (1844) AABBDD
  24. T. aestivum            1190149    cv. Squarehead’s Master   AABBDD
  25. T. aestivum            1190913     cv. Little Joss (1908)   AABBDD
  26. T. aestivum            1190868       cv. Holdfast (1935) AABBDD
  27. T. aestivum            1190859       cv. Cappelle Desprez (1953) AABBDD
  28. T. aestivum            W730       cv. Huntsman (1972) AABBDD
  29. T. aestivum            W8651       cv. Hobbit Sib (1971) AABBDD
  30. T. aestivum            W2564       cv. Avalon (1980) AABBDD
  31. T. aestivum            W9999      cv. Robigus (2002)  AABBDD
  32. T. aestivum             W9809       cv. Shango   AABBDD        
  33. T. aestivum            N/A      cv. KWS Santiago     AABBDD