Strategy for exploiting exotic germplasm using genetic, morphological, and environmental diversity: the Aegilops tauschii Coss. example.
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Hexaploid bread wheat evolved from a rare hybridisation, which resulted in a loss of genetic diversity in the wheat D-genome with respect to the ancestral donor, Aegilops tauschii. Novel genetic variation can be introduced into modern wheat by recreating the above hybridisation; however, the information associated with the Ae. tauschii accessions in germplasm collections is limited, making rational selection of accessions into a re-synthesis programme difficult. We describe methodologies to identify novel diversity from Ae. tauschii accessions that combines Bayesian analysis of genotypic data, sub-species diversity and geographic information that summarises variation in climate and habitat at the collection point for each accession. Comparisons were made between diversity discovered amongst a panel of Ae. tauschii accessions, bread wheat varieties and lines from the CIMMYT synthetic hexaploid wheat programme. The selection of Ae. tauschii accessions based on differing approaches had significant effect on diversity within each set. Our results suggest that a strategy that combines several criteria will be most effective in maximising the sampled variation across multiple parameters. The analysis of multiple layers of variation in ex situ Ae. tauschii collections allows for an informed and rational approach to the inclusion of wild relatives into crop breeding programmes.
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