Comparing two approaches for introgression of germplasm from Aegilops tauschii into common wheat
Publication: The Crop Journal
Allelic diversity in the wild grass Aegilops tauschii is vastly greater than that in the D genome of common wheat (Triticum aestivum), of which Ae. tauschii is the source. Since the 1980s, there have been numerous efforts to harness a much larger share of Ae. tauschii‘s extensive and highly variable gene pool for wheat improvement. Those efforts have followed two distinct approaches: production of amphiploids, known as “synthetic hexaploids,” between T. turgidum and Ae. tauschii, and direct hybridization between T. aestivum and Ae. tauschii; both approaches then involve backcrossing to T. aestivum. Both synthetic hexaploid production and direct hybridization have led to the transfer of numerous new genes into common wheat that confer improvements in many traits. This work has led to release of improved cultivars in China, the United States, and many other countries. Each approach to D-genome improvement has advantages and disadvantages. For example, production of synthetic hexaploids can incorporate useful germplasm from both T. turgidum and Ae. tauschii, thereby enhancing the A, B, and D genomes; on the other hand, direct hybridization rapidly restores the recurrent parent’s A and B genomes and avoids incorporation of genes with adverse effects on threshability, hybridnecrosis, vernalization response, milling and baking quality, and other traits, which are often transferred when T. turgidum is used as a parent. Choice of method will depend in part on the type of wheat being developed and the target environment. However, more extensive use of the so-far underexploited direct hybridization approach is especially warranted.