Researchers have sequenced the genome of durum wheat, which is used to make pasta, Popular Science reports.
An international team of researchers generated a 10.45 gigabase assembly of the durum wheat genome. As they report in Nature Genetics, the researchers found that the durum wheat genome harbored multiple signatures linked with domestication and breeding.
They also identified a variant in a gene encoding a metal transporter that's nonfunctional and could account for why durum wheat can accumulate high levels of cadmium. This allele, dubbed TdHMA3-B1, appeared to arise quickly in durum wheat, according to the researchers. They noted it is not present in wild emmer wheat from which durum wheat is derived, but accumulated in domesticated emmer wheat and then durum wheat.
Popular Science notes that this could now be used to select for durum wheat with fewer copies of the allele to prevent heavy metal poisoning.
In addition, the researchers write in their paper that "[g]ene discovery, QTL cloning and the precision of genomics-assisted breeding to enhance grain quality, and quantity of pasta wheat will benefit from the resources presented here."