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Wheat Domestication Clues Drawn From Einkorn Genome Assemblies, Resequencing Data

In Nature, a team from Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, the US, and elsewhere present findings from a genomic analysis of einkorn (Triticum monococcum), a wheat plant linked to early agricultural ventures in the Fertile Crescent during the Neolithic period. The researchers relied on a combination of long-read sequencing, optical mapping, phasing, and other approaches to put together new 5.2 gigabase genome assemblies for a wild (T. monococcum subspecies monococcum) einkorn accession from northern Iraq and a domesticated (T. monococcum subspecies aegilopoides) einkorn accession from Albania. Together with short-read genome resequencing data for another 219 einkorn accessions, the einkorn assemblies provided a look at the wheat plant's relationships, evolution, and domestication history. In addition to the introgression and hybridization events detected in the genomes of einkorn plants, for example, the authors' analyses highlighted einkorn contributions to modern T. aestivum bread wheat sequences and subgenome origins. "Our results unravel the complex evolutionary history of einkorn and offer insights into the genome dynamics of Triticeae, including the centromere structure, while establishing valuable resources that augment the genomic toolbox for wheat improvement," they write.