Durum wheat as a candidate for the unknown female progenitor of bread wheat: an empirical study with a highly fertile F1 hybrid with Aegilops tauschii Coss.Theor Appl Genet. 2004 Nov; 109(8):1710-7.TA
Hexaploid bread wheat was derived from a hybrid cross between a cultivated form of tetraploid Triticum wheat (female progenitor) and a wild diploid species, Aegilops tauschii Coss. (male progenitor). This cross produced a fertile triploid F1 hybrid that set hexaploid seeds. The identity of the female progenitor is unknown, but various cultivated tetraploid Triticum wheats exist today. Genetic and archaeological evidence suggests that durum wheat (T. turgidum ssp. durum) may be the female progenitor. In previous studies, however, F1 hybrids of durum wheat crossed with Ae. tauschii consistently had low levels of fertility. To establish an empirical basis for the theory of durum wheat being the female progenitor of bread wheat, we crossed a durum wheat cultivar that carries a gene for meiotic restitution with a line of Ae. tauschii. F1 hybrids were produced without using embryo rescue techniques. These triploid F1 hybrids were highly fertile and spontaneously set hexaploid F2 seeds at the average selfed seedset rate of 51.5%. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first example of the production of highly fertile F1 hybrids between durum wheat and Ae. tauschii. The F1 and F2 hybrids are both similar morphologically to bread wheat and have vigorous growth habits. Cytological analyses of F1 male gametogenesis showed that meiotic restitution is responsible for the high fertility of the triploid F1 hybrids. The implications of these findings for the origin of bread wheat are discussed.