Bread wheat: a role model for plant domestication and breeding
- Bread wheat is one of the most important crops in the world. Its domestication coincides with the beginning of agriculture and since then, it has been constantly under selection by humans. Its breeding has followed millennia of cultivation, sometimes with unintended selection on adaptive traits, and later by applying intentional but empirical selective pressures. For more than one century, wheat breeding has been based on science, and has been constantly evolving due to on farm agronomy and breeding program improvements. The aim of this work is to briefly review wheat breeding, with emphasis on the current advances.Improving yield potential, resistance/tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, and baking quality, have been priorities for breeding this cereal, however, new objectives are arising, such as biofortification enhancement. The narrow genetic diversity and complexity of its genome have hampered the breeding progress and the application of biotechnology. Old approaches, such as the introgression from relative species, mutagenesis, and hybrid breeding are strongly reappearing, motivated by an accumulation of knowledge and new technologies. A revolution has taken place regarding the use of molecular markers whereby thousands of plants can be routinely genotyped for thousands of loci. After 13 years, the wheat reference genome sequence and annotation has finally been completed, and is currently available to the scientific community. Transgenics, an unusual approach for wheat improvement, still represents a potential tool, however it is being replaced by gene editing, whose technology along with genomic selection, speed breeding, and high-throughput phenotyping make up the most recent frontiers for future wheat improvement.Agriculture and plant breeding are constantly evolving, wheat has played a major role in these processes and will continue through decades to come.