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Morphological and molecular characterization of Italian emmer wheat accessions

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The characterization of 39 Italian ecotypes and cultivars of Triticum turgidum L. spp. dicoccum Shrank ex Schübler (emmer wheat) was performed utilizing agro-morphological and molecular tools. Emmer wheat is a hulled species which grows wild in the Near East and is still cultivated in the Mediterranean Basin. Due to its characteristics, in Italy it is cultivated mainly in marginal lands of central and southern Italy, where local varieties, adapted to the natural environment where they originated, are used. Emmer wheat cultivation has been drastically reduced during the last century as a consequence of its low yield. Nevertheless, more recently, its agronomic and nutritive values, together with its use in health food products, made its cultivation economically viable in the marginal lands with a parallel increase of the cultivated area which is now more than 2000 ha.

In the present paper the results of morphological evaluation, carried out in an experimental field in central Italy using a randomized block design with three replications, and molecular characterization are reported. The analysed material showed distinctive molecular traits and the existence of a huge amount of diversity not only between varieties, but also within them. When the accessions were clustered utilizing their genetic distance, the clusters were not always in agreement with the accessions origins. The obtained results gave information that can be useful for: (i) future registration of material, (ii) germplasm conservation and (iii) use of this valuable source of emmer germplasm for future breeding programmes.

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Correspondence to Mario Augusto Pagnotta.

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Pagnotta, M.A., Mondini, L. & Atallah, M.F. Morphological and molecular characterization of Italian emmer wheat accessions. Euphytica 146, 29–37 (2005).

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Key words

  • ancient wheat
  • emmer wheat
  • EST
  • hulled wheat
  • molecular markers
  • Triticum dicoccum