Unlocking the genetic diversity within a middle-east panel of durum wheat landraces for adaptation to semi-arid climate

Salam Y. Abu-Zaitoun, Kottakota Chandrasekhar, Siwar Assili, Munqez J. Shtaya, Rana M. Jamous, Omar B. Mallah, Kamal Nashef, Hanan Sela, Assaf Distelfeld, Nawal Alhajaj, Mohammed S. Ali-Shtayeh, Zvi Peleg, Roi Ben-David*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Drought is the major environmental factor limiting wheat production worldwide. Developing novel cultivars with greater drought tolerance is the most viable solution to ensure sustainable agricultural production and alleviating threats to food-security. Here we established a core-collection of landraces and modern durum wheat cultivars (WheatME, n = 36), from the Middle East region (Jordan, Palestine and Israel) aiming at unlocking the genetic and morpho-physiological adaptation to semi-arid environment conditions. Interestingly, genetic analysis of the WheatME core-collection could not distinguish the landraces according to their country of origin. Field-based evaluation of the core-collection conducted across range of contrasting environmental conditions: Til-Palestine, Bet-Dagan-Israel and Irbid-Jordan with annual precipitation of 500 mm, 360 mm and 315 mm, respectively. The Til environment showed highest grain yield while the Irbid environment showed the lowest values. Analysis of variance showed a significant Genotype Environment interaction for plant phenology traits (plant height and heading date) and productivity traits (1000-kernel weight, and grain yield). Principal component analysis showed three main cultivar groups: High yielding lines (modern durum cultivars, and landraces), tall late flowering landraces, and landraces with high grain weight. This knowledge could serve as basis for future breeding efforts to develop new elite cultivars adapted to the Mediterranean Basin's semi-arid conditions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number231
Issue number10
StatePublished - 21 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the authors.


  • Climate change
  • Drought adaptation
  • Genetic variation
  • Landraces
  • Mediterranean Basin climate
  • Wheat breeding


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