Cultivated Ancient Wheats
Cultivated Ancient Wheats (Triticum spp )A Potential Source of Health-Beneficial Food Products
Abstract: A sustainable and wholesome food supply is the most important incentive that has led to an increasing interest in ancient wheats over the past few decades. Domestication of wheat, followed by breeding efforts, largely over the past 2 centuries, has resulted in yield increases but with grain quality deterioration due to the reduction of protein, vitamins, and minerals in grains. It has also resulted in a decrease in food diversity due to the loss of genetic variation in the cultivated wheat gene pool. Ancient hulled wheats, einkorn, emmer, and spelt are among the early cereals that were domesticated in their places of origin in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East where their wild predecessors still grow. The ancient wheats had a long history as part of human diet, and played an important role as a major source of food for the early civilizations in that region. The risks of genetic erosion of crop plants and the associated likely consequences for agriculture now call for revitalization of the unrealized potentials of ancestral species like einkorn, emmer, and spelt wheat, the domesticated ancestors of modern durum and bread wheats. These ancestors need to be exploited to maximize the sustainable supply of grain protein, fiber, minerals, and phytochemicals. In addition, ancient wheat biodiversity can be utilized to ensure sustainable wheat production in the context of climate change and low-input organic farming systems. This review provides a holistic synthesis of the information on ancient wheats to facilitate a greater exploitation of their potential benefits.
Keywords: diversity, einkorn, emmer, flour, grain, nutrient rich food, spelt, Triticum spp