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Last update: May 2021

Menu Logo Principal Clermont Auvergne University

UMR GDEC

Joint Research Unit 1095 Genetics, Diversity and Ecophysiology of Cereals

Caroline Pont

2016 oct - Translational research in bread wheat: understanding the genome evolution to improve its agronomic traits

Wheat plays a key role in Human food due to its nutritional value. Wheat production needs to be increased by more than 20% by 2050 to guarantee current human consumption standards. Taking into account climatic changes with high level of environmental constraints, yield improvement without quality loss became a big challenge. This consists in the economical and societal context of the current doctoral thesis.

The integrative translational genomic approach consists in transferring fundamental knowledge gained from model species to applied practices for breeding in crops. This strategy was used here to study the evolutionary history, the organization and the regulation of the modern bread wheat genome. Modern wheat is a polypoid species deriving from two hybridization events between diploid progenitors 500 000 and 10 000 years ago, as well as a more ancient that dated back to more than 90 million years ago. The current research consisted in using cereal species closely related to wheat to study the impact of these duplications on the structural and expression plasticity of duplicated genes in wheat.

Our results established that the diploidization process is in progress in wheat after the successive rounds of polyploidization events. This diploidization consists in the accumulation of mutations, gene loss or expression modification between duplicated genes. This diploidization is nonrandom at the genome level; generating dominant chromosomic regions with high stability in contrast to others regions more sensitive with high plasticity. Based on such wheat genome evolutionary analysis, polyploidy appears as a major evolutionary force driving plant adaptation through structural and expressional specialization of duplicated genes.

Such post-polyploidy genomic asymmetry drives finally the phenotype diploidization as illustrated in the current research with the study of genetic basis of the tiller inhibition Trait. This trait seems to be driven by a 109 pb insertion coding for a microRNA located solely on the chromosome 1A, known as a sensitive genomic fraction.

The current research established that the modern bread wheat has been quasi-entirely diploidized at the structural, expressional and phenotypic levels, now requiring a new definition of the polypoid concept in line with current genomic investigations, as illustrated in the current thesis.