There is a debate concerning mono- or poly-phyletic origins of the Near Eastern crops. In parallel, some authors claim that domestication was not possible within the natural range of the wild progenitors due to wild alleles flow into the nascent crops. Here we address both, the mono- or poly-phyletic origins and the domestications within or without the natural range of the progenitor, debates in order to understand the relationship between domesticated chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) and its wild progenitor (C. reticulatum Ladizinsky) with special emphasis on its domestication centre in southeastern Turkey. A set of 103 chickpea cultivars and landraces from the major growing regions alongside wild accessions (C. reticulatum, C. echinospermum P.H Davis and C. bijugum K.H. Rech) sampled across the natural distribution range in eastern Turkey were genotyped with 194 SNPs markers. The genetic affinities between and within the studied taxa were assessed. The analysis suggests a mono-phyletic origin of the cultigen, with several wild accession as likely members of the wild stock of the cultigen. Clear separation between the wild and domesticated germplasm was apparent, with negligible level of admixture. A single C. reticulatum accession shows morphological and allelic signatures of admixture, a likely result of introgression. No evidence of geneflow from the wild into domesticated germplasm was found. The traditional farming systems of southeaster Turkey are characterized by occurrence of sympatric wild progenitor - domesticated forms of chickpea (and likewise cereals and other grain legumes). Therefore, both the authentic crop landraces and the wild populations native to the area are a unique genetic resource. Our results grant support to the notion of domestication within the natural distribution range of the wild progenitor, suggesting that the Neolithic domesticators were fully capable of selecting the desired phenotypes even when facing rare wild-domesticated introgression events.
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