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Geographical variation in heading characters among wheat landraces, Triticum aestivum L., and its implication for their adaptability

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Heading time and its constituent traits, photoperiodic response, narrow-sense earliness and vernalization requirement, were surveyed for 158 wheat landraces. Wide varietal variation was observed in each character. Nearly half of the variation for each character was explained by a geographical difference in origin. Based on these data and the growing environments in each locality, we analyzed “adaptation strategy”, seen as the adjustment of heading time in terms of differences in the constituent traits, both individually and combined. The difference among localities indicated that wheat landraces had been selected for early heading as an adaptation strategy to water stress and/or high temperature in early summer. This change was caused by a reduction in photoperiodic response and narrow-sense earliness. The vernalization requirement was also reduced for adaptation to relatively mild winters. Adaptation strategy deduced from the variation within each locality was also different amongst localities. In the central region of wheat evolution, where wide variations existed in both photoperiodic response and narrow-sense earliness, the late-heading trait was achieved by either one of these traits individually or both of them combined. On the contrary, in the eastern and the western regions, wide variation in heading time was achieved by the unique combination of photoperiodic response and narrowsense earliness. A sampling strategy for wheat germ plasm is also discussed.

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Communicated by J. W. Snape

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Kato, K., Yokoyama, H. Geographical variation in heading characters among wheat landraces, Triticum aestivum L., and its implication for their adaptability. Theoret. Appl. Genetics 84, 259–265 (1992).

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