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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 548246, 16 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/548246
Review Article

Drought Tolerance in Modern and Wild Wheat

Biological Sciences and Bioengineering Program, Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences, Sabanci University, 34956 Tuzla, Istanbul, Turkey

Received 5 March 2013; Accepted 3 April 2013

Academic Editors: J. Huang, A. Levine, and Z. Wang

Copyright © 2013 Hikmet Budak et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The genus Triticum includes bread (Triticum aestivum) and durum wheat (Triticum durum) and constitutes a major source for human food consumption. Drought is currently the leading threat on world's food supply, limiting crop yield, and is complicated since drought tolerance is a quantitative trait with a complex phenotype affected by the plant's developmental stage. Drought tolerance is crucial to stabilize and increase food production since domestication has limited the genetic diversity of crops including wild wheat, leading to cultivated species, adapted to artificial environments, and lost tolerance to drought stress. Improvement for drought tolerance can be achieved by the introduction of drought-grelated genes and QTLs to modern wheat cultivars. Therefore, identification of candidate molecules or loci involved in drought tolerance is necessary, which is undertaken by “omics” studies and QTL mapping. In this sense, wild counterparts of modern varieties, specifically wild emmer wheat (T. dicoccoides), which are highly tolerant to drought, hold a great potential. Prior to their introgression to modern wheat cultivars, drought related candidate genes are first characterized at the molecular level, and their function is confirmed via transgenic studies. After integration of the tolerance loci, specific environment targeted field trials are performed coupled with extensive analysis of morphological and physiological characteristics of developed cultivars, to assess their performance under drought conditions and their possible contributions to yield in certain regions. This paper focuses on recent advances on drought related gene/QTL identification, studies on drought related molecular pathways, and current efforts on improvement of wheat cultivars for drought tolerance.