The pedigree of wheat

All plants start out as seeds. Grass seed (with thin leaves) is called grain. There are only 9 different types of grain: teff, sorghum, millet, rice, corn (Turkish corn), oats, barley, rye and wheat. Some claim that amaranth and buckwheat are also grains, but this is incorrect: they are pseudo grains. 

The pedigree of wheat

Unlike pseudo grains, einkorn, emmer, Khorasan wheat and ancient rye are considered ancient grains because they originate from the grasses family (graminoids). That makes them the legitimate genetic stem forms of all current grains

With its AA genome, einkorn is the oldest wheat species in an evolutionary sense. Hybrids with a wild grass species with the BB genome include wild emmer – and later – cultivated emmer, Khorasan wheat and durum wheat, which all have an AABB gene composition.

Spelt and modern wheat species were developed by further crossing wild grasses with a DD genome and cultivated emmer. Both spelt and common wheat have an AABBDD genome sequence. Today's common wheat is used in about 80% of bread, rolls and pastries worldwide.

Grain selection

Grain selection has been around for ages. For over 10,000 years, our ancestors have selected certain grains to be replanted in the next sowing season. Over time, farmers have adapted and perfected this technique to:

  • Optimise grain resistance to disease and changing environmental conditions in order to increase yields

  • Increase grain yields to provide adequate food supplies to the population

  • Simplify and improve milling output by not having to separate grains from their membrane

  • Upgrade grain quality for more and better food products, such as bread and pastries
     

The pedigree of wheat
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