Cereals Taxonomy: The Role of Domestication and Breeding on Gluten Intolerance

María J. Giménez, Javier Gil-Humanes, Juan B. Alvarez, Francisco Barro Losada


Storage proteins of wheat, rye, barley and, to a lesser extent, oats contain epitopes responsible for triggering the celiac disease (CD). In recent decades an increased frequency of CD has been observed, and though the reasons for this increase are unclear, modern plant breeding has attracted criticism attributing to the new varieties a part of the responsibility in worsening the data of prevalence. Wheat is one of the most important crops worldwide, presenting both high adaptability to different environments and yields. The domestication of wheat is the result of a previous natural interspecific hybridization first between diploid, and then between diploid and tetraploid species that resulted in hexaploid wheat. The old farmers began to select the traits that were better adapted to the use. In the 20th century the wheat breeding had its great advance and modern varieties were developed. The gliadin-related genes, responsible for triggering CD, have no adaptive value and therefore, if the toxicity of wheat was increased during the process of domestication and breeding this would have been made unconsciously. During the process of natural hybridization the number of gliadin-related genes was increased. Bread wheat, rye, and Ae. tauschii have the highest number of CD epitopes per gene, and it seems that in bread wheat, this high number of epitopes is explained by the D genome from Ae. tauschii. During the process of domestication and breeding, the number of CD epitopes per gene did not increase and even decreased in some cases.

Palabras clave

Cereal domestication, wheat breeding, prolamins, gluten, immunotoxicity

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