The chloroplast view of the evolution of polyploid wheat



  • Polyploid wheats comprise four species: Triticum turgidum (AABB genomes) and T. aestivum (AABBDD) in the Emmer lineage, and T. timopheevii (AAGG) and T. zhukovskyi (AAGGAmAm) in the Timopheevi lineage. Genetic relationships between chloroplast genomes were studied to trace the evolutionary history of the species.
  • Twenty-five chloroplast genomes were sequenced, and 1127 plant accessions were genotyped, representing 13 Triticum and Aegilops species.
  • The A. speltoides (SS genome) diverged before the divergence of T. urartu (AA), A. tauschii (DD) and the Aegilops species of the Sitopsis section. Aegilops speltoides forms a monophyletic clade with the polyploid Emmer and Timopheevi wheats, which originated within the last 0.7 and 0.4 Myr, respectively. The geographic distribution of chloroplast haplotypes of the wild tetraploid wheats and A. speltoides illustrates the possible geographic origin of the Emmer lineage in the southern Levant and the Timopheevi lineage in northern Iraq.
  • Aegilops speltoides is the closest relative of the diploid donor of the chloroplast (cytoplasm), as well as the B and G genomes to Timopheevi and Emmer lineages. Chloroplast haplotypes were often shared by species or subspecies within major lineages and between the lineages, indicating the contribution of introgression to the evolution and domestication of polyploid wheats.