I have become increasingly interested in wheat, not just because I love baked goods, as wheat flour is generally a staple ingredient, but because there are different varieties. Why does that matter you say? Well, each variety has been cultivated over time and is genetically different than the others. One may have more protein for instance, while another has a different gluten effect. The number one reason I am interested in this area, is that while living here in Saudi, I can eat most things made from wheat flour with no ill effects, while back in the States, I avoid it because of digestive issues.
So what is the difference? Here is a great article titled, “Landmark study generates first genomic atlas for global wheat diversity”, published 25 Nov. 2020 on the Natural History Museum UK’s website. Saudi Arabian scientists were involved in the international study that is, The 10+ Genome Project. And following, if you like archaeology then the last video is for you! Especially if you want to know where wheat comes from. “Göbekli Tepe & The domestication of wheat” video.
Excerpt from National History Museum UK’s article:
‘“Now we have increased the number of wheat genome sequences more than 10-fold, enabling us to identify genetic differences between wheat lines that are important for breeding. We can compare and contrast the full complement of the genetic differences that make each variety unique.”
Scientific groups across the global wheat community are expected to use the new resource to identify genes linked to in-demand traits, which will accelerate breeding efficiency. Improving yield has never been more urgent with estimates that wheat production must increase by more than 50 per cent by 2050 to meet an increasing global demand.
The 10+ Genome study represents the start of a larger effort to generate thousands of genome sequences of wheat, including genetic material brought in from wheat’s wild relatives.
The research team was able to track the unique DNA signatures of genetic material incorporated into modern cultivars from several of wheat’s undomesticated relatives by breeders over the century. These wheat relatives can be used by breeders to improve disease resistance and stress resistance of wheat – selecting key traits more efficiently using a simple DNA test.’
Here’s a good, short article on the history of wheat evolution.
This video shows the archaeological finds in Turkey of a complex society 12,000 years ago that farmed wheat.