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Theor Appl Genet. 2003 Sep;107(5):783-97. Epub 2003 Jul 4.

Microsatellite analysis reveals a progressive widening of the genetic basis in the elite durum wheat germplasm.

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Department of Agroenvironmental Science and Technology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.


It has been argued that the level of genetic diversity in the modern durum wheat ( Triticum turgidum L. var. durum) elite germplasm may have declined due to the high selection pressure applied in breeding programs. In this study, 58 accessions covering a wide spectrum of genetic diversity of the cultivated durum wheat gene pool were characterized with 70 microsatellite loci (or simple sequence repeats, SSRs). On average, SSRs detected 5.6 different allelic variants per locus, with a mean diversity index (DI) equal to 0.56, thus revealing a diversity content comparable to those previously observed with SSRs in other small-grain cereal gene pools. The mean genetic similarity value was equal to 0.44. A highly diagnostic SSR set has been identified. A high variation in allele size was detected among SSR loci, suggesting a different suitability of these loci for estimating genetic diversity. The B genome was characterized by an overall polymorphism significantly higher than that of the A genome. Genetic diversity is organised in well-distinct sub-groups identified by the corresponding foundation-genotypes. A large portion (92.7%) of the molecular variation detected within the group of 45 modern cvs was accounted for by SSR alleles tracing back to ten foundation-genotypes; among those, the most recent CIMMYT-derived founders were genetically distant from the old Mediterranean ones. On the other hand, rare alleles were abundant, suggesting that a large number of genetic introgressions contributed to the foundation of the well-diversified germplasm herein considered. The profiles of recently released varieties indicate that the level of genetic diversity present in the modern durum wheat germplasm has actually increased over time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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