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The role of gene flow and chromosomal instability in shaping the bread wheat genome

Przewieslik-Allen, Alexandra M.; Wilkinson, Paul A.; Burridge, Amanda J.; Winfield, Mark O.; Dai, Xiaoyang; Beaumont, Mark; King, Julie; Yang, Cai yun; Griffiths, Simon; Wingen, Luzie U.; Horsnell, Richard; Bentley, Alison R.; Shewry, Peter; Barker, Gary L. A.; Edwards, Keith J.


Alexandra M. Przewieslik-Allen

Paul A. Wilkinson

Amanda J. Burridge

Mark O. Winfield

Xiaoyang Dai

Mark Beaumont

Cai yun Yang

Simon Griffiths

Luzie U. Wingen

Richard Horsnell

Alison R. Bentley

Peter Shewry

Gary L. A. Barker

Keith J. Edwards


© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited. Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) is one of the world’s most important crops; however, a low level of genetic diversity within commercial breeding accessions can significantly limit breeding potential. In contrast, wheat relatives exhibit considerable genetic variation and so potentially provide a valuable source of novel alleles for use in breeding new cultivars. Historically, gene flow between wheat and its relatives may have contributed novel alleles to the bread wheat pangenome. To assess the contribution made by wheat relatives to genetic diversity in bread wheat, we used markers based on single nucleotide polymorphisms to compare bread wheat accessions, created in the past 150 years, with 45 related species. We show that many bread wheat accessions share near-identical haplotype blocks with close relatives of wheat’s diploid and tetraploid progenitors, while some show evidence of introgressions from more distant species and structural variation between accessions. Hence, introgressions and chromosomal rearrangements appear to have made a major contribution to genetic diversity in cultivar collections. As gene flow from relatives to bread wheat is an ongoing process, we assess the impact that introgressions might have on future breeding strategies.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 18, 2021
Online Publication Date Feb 1, 2021
Publication Date 2021-02
Deposit Date Feb 25, 2021
Journal Nature Plants
Print ISSN 2055-026X
Electronic ISSN 2055-0278
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Pages 172-183
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Received: 3 August 2020; Accepted: 18 December 2020; First Online: 1 February 2021; : The authors declare no competing interests.