Using diversity of the chloroplast genome to examine evolutionary history of wheat species

Fiona Leigh, Ian Mackay, H.R. Oliveira, Nick Gosman, Richard Horsnell, Huw Jones, Jon White, W Powell, Terence A Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Chloroplast microsatellites (SSRs) are conserved within wheat species, yet are sufficiently polymorphic between and within species to be useful for evolutionary studies. This study describes the relationships among a very large set of accessions of Triticum urartu Thum. ex Gandil., T. dicoccoides (Körn. ex Asch. et Graebn.) Schweinf., T. dicoccon Schrank, T. durum Desf., T. spelta L., and T. aestivum L. s. str. based on their cpSSR genotypes. By characterising the chloroplast diversity in each wheat species in the evolutionary series, the impact on diversity of major evolutionary events such as domestication and polyploidyisation was assessed. We detected bottlenecks associated with domestication, polyploidisation and selection, yet these constrictions were partially offset by mutations in the chloroplast SSR loci that generated new alleles. The discrete cpSSR alleles and haplotypes observed in T. urartu and Aegilops tauschii, combined with other species specific polymorphisms, provide very strong evidence that concur with current opinion that neither species was the maternal and thus cytoplasmic donor for polyploid wheats. Synthetic hexaploid wheats possessed the same chloroplast haplotypes as their tetraploid progenitors demonstrating how the novel synthetic wheat lines have captured chloroplast diversity from the maternal parents, the chloroplast is maternally inherited and novel alleles are not created by genomic rearrangements triggered by the polyploidisation event.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1831–1842
Number of pages12
JournalGenetic Resources and Crop Evolution
Issue number6
Publication statusPrint publication - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013


  • wheat
  • Domestication


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