WheatME: Improve Wheat Production under Climate Changes in the Middle East Region (M34-037). (2017-2022)

Project Date

Global climate change toward greater aridity and the ever-increased population pose challenge to enhance productivity.  Thus, developing drought tolerant wheat cultivars with enhanced yields is therefore essential to assure food security. Moreover, in the Middle East counties, wheat is the most important grain crop. Wild emmer wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides), the progenitor of all wheats, harbor a wide genetic diversity for agronomically important traits including drought resistance. Additionally, the high genetic similarity with durum wheat enables fast and easy transfer of genomic region to improve the domesticated forms.

The project aims to:

This research project aims to improve drought and heat tolerance in durum wheat, by exploiting the available genetic diversity in the wild relatives.  We developed a large mapping population derived from cross between elite durum wheat cultivar and highly drought tolerant wild emmer accession.

We will characterize this population in the target region (Palestine, Israel and Jordan) for yield and morpho-physiological traits contributing to heat and drought tolerance. Using the high density genetic  map  already  available,  we  will  map  genomic  region  associated  with  improved productivity under water deficit.  This information will be used for the introgression of genomic regions containing drought resistance genes/QTL from the wild into high yielding elite Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian recipient's cultivars for the establishment of improved cultivars with high yield under heat and drought conditions.


Expected outputs of the WheatME project are:

Better understanding of the physiological basis of drought and heat tolerance in wheat, the validation of marker assisted selection to enhance yields in elite cultivars. Existing and produced knowledge will be directly translated into the generation of drought adapted and well characterized (pre-) breeding durum wheat cultivars to improve the performance under Mediterranean climate.



Abu-Zaitoun S. Y., Chandrasekhar K., Assili S., Shtaya M. J., Jamous R. M., Mallah O. B., Nashef K., Sela H., Distelfeld A., Alhajaj N., Ali-Shtayeh M. S., Peleg Z. and Ben-David R. Unlocking the Genetic diversity within a Middle-East panel of Durum wheat landraces for adaptation to semi-arid climate. Agronomy 2018, 8, 233; doi:10.3390/agronomy8100233 www.mdpi.com/journal/agronomy

Project Partners and Collaborators
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Tel Aviv University
National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE)
Agriculture Research Organization-Volcani Center (ARO)
Project Funders