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Mol Biol Evol. 2005 Oct;22(10):2055-62. Epub 2005 Jun 22.

Sequence evidence for sporadic intergeneric DNA introgression from wheat into a wild Aegilops species.

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  • 1Department of Plant Sciences, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


Introgressive hybridization has played a crucial role in the evolution of many plant species, especially polyploids. The duplicated genetic material and wide geographical distribution facilitate hybridization and introgression among polyploid species having either homologous or homoeologous genomes. Such introgression may lead to the production of recombinant genomes that are more difficult to form at the diploid level. Crop genes that have introgressed into wild relatives can increase the capability of the wild relatives to adapt to agricultural environments and compete with crops or to compete with other wild species. Although the transfer of genes from crops into their conspecific immediate wild progenitors has been reported, little is known about spontaneous gene movement from crops to more distantly related species. We describe recent spontaneous DNA introgression from domesticated polyploid wheat into distantly related, wild tetraploid Aegilops peregrina (syn. Aegilops variabilis) and the stabilization of this sequence in wild populations despite not having homologous chromosomes. Our results show that DNA can spontaneously introgress between homoeologous genomes of species of the tribe Triticeae and, in the case of crop-wild relatives, possibly enrich the wild population. These results also emphasize the need for fail-safe mechanisms in transgenic crops to prevent gene flow where there may be ecological risks.

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