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Wheat Over Time

The wild relatives of domesticated plants like wheat may be adapting to new climatic conditions and may help researchers understand how plants respond to warming, BBC News reports.

Researchers from Canada and Israel analyzed samples from 10 wild emmer wheat populations that were collected in 1980 and again in 2008. As they report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, the researchers conducted whole-exome capture sequencing of these samples to uncover evidence of increased selection and mutations and decreased diversity in these populations. During the 28-year timeframe of the study, the average temperature in Israel where the wheat was grown increased about 2 degrees Celsius, the BBC adds.

"That is really exciting because it means that the population is able to get beneficial mutations," first author Yong-Bi Fu, a research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada tells the BBC. "This mutation is crucial, and we can see that we need a lot of effort to protect and conserve the crop's diversity in the wild, natural population."