Saharan wheats: before they disappear uri icon

abstract

  • Wheat landraces cultivated in the Saharan oases have been submitted during centuries to drought, heat and salinity and are expected to have developed tolerance to these constraints. The different forms present in the oases of Libya, Algeria and Morocco have been collected and described by several authors who highlighted the peculiarity and diversity of this germplasm, on the basis of spike and grain morphology. The origin, date and way of introduction of wheat in the Saharan oases are however largely unknown. Most landraces may have been introduced from Egypt, possibly during wet climatic episodes. Spike morphological traits of some landraces suggest an Asiatic origin (Iran, Turkestan and Afghanistan). More recent introductions have also probably occurred. This lack of information as well as the potential interest of this germplasm for wheat improvement would merit further studies. Marker-based diversity analysis of Saharan wheats and comparison with North-African and Asian wheats might permit to precise their classification and confirm their origin. Evaluation for tolerance to abiotic constraints would allow a better understanding of their adaptation to the oases environments and identification of potential progenitors to be used by wheat breeders. Such studies are urgent considering the quick genetic erosion of this germplasm due to drastic ecological and socio-economic changes affecting Saharan oases and their cropping systems.

publication date

  • 2014
  • 2014
  • 2014