, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 300-309
Date: 11 Jan 2006

Multiple genetic pathways for seed shattering in the grasses

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Shattering is an essential seed dispersal mechanism in wild species. It is believed that independent mutations at orthologous loci led to convergent domestication of cereal crops. To investigate genetic relationships of Triticeae shattering genes with those of other grasses, we mapped spike-, barrel- (B-type), and wedge-type (W-type) spikelet disarticulation genes in wheat and its wild relatives. The Br1 gene for W-type disarticulation was mapped to a region delimited by Xpsr598 and Xpsr1196 on the short arm of chromosomes 3A in Triticum timopheevii and 3S in Aegilops speltoides. The spike- and W-type disarticulation genes are allelic at Br1 in Ae. speltoides. The B-type disarticulation gene, designated as Br2, was mapped to an interval of 4.4 cM between Xmwg2013 and Xpsr170 on the long arm of chromosome 3D in Aegilops tauschii, the D-genome donor of common wheat. Therefore, B- and W-type disarticulations are governed by two different orthologous loci on group-3 chromosomes. Based on map position, orthologs of Br1 and Br2 were not detected in barley, maize, rice, and sorghum, indicating multiple genetic pathways for shattering in grasses. The implications of the mapping results are discussed with regard to the evolution of polyploid wheat and domestication of cereals.