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Yehoshua Anikster and Moshe Feldman

Eitan Millet, Moshe Agami, Smadar Ezrati, Jacob Manisterski and Yehoshua Anikster

Sharon goat grass (Aegilops sharonensis Eig) is endemic to the Coastal Plain of Israel and south Lebanon where it grows exclusively on sandy soils. Plants of this species were reported in many locations, but most of these reports are old and many of these locations have undergone urban and agricultural development in recent decades. This study is aimed at determining the current area and mode of distribution of this species. In a systematic survey of the Coastal Plain in Israel, we have located 42 disjunct populations in the area between Acre in the north and Gaza in the south. Physical and ecological data of the populations were recorded. The possibility of diminishing genetic diversity of this species due to extinction of populations is discussed.

Li Huang, Eitan Millet, Junkang Rong, Jonathan F. Wendel, Yehoshua Anikster and Moshe Feldman

RFLP diversity in the nuclear genome was estimated within and among Israeli populations of wild emmer wheat (Triticum turgidum var. dicoccoides) from a long-term study site at Ammiad (NE Israel), and from several other geographical locations. Using 55 enzyme-probe combinations, high levels of genetic diversity were revealed in wild emmer in general and within the Ammiad site. In spite of high diversity, observed heterozygosity was low and populations consisted of a patchwork of alternate multilocus homozygotes, consistent with the reproductive biology of a predominant self-fertilizing species. Retention of genetic diversity in wild emmer may be promoted by large population sizes, microhabitat diversity, and occasional gene flow through both pollen and seed. Population genetic structure in wild emmer appears to have been influenced by historical founder events as well as selective factors. Multivariate analyses indicated that individuals tend to cluster together according to their population of origin, and that there is little geographical differentiation among populations. Sampling of 12 domesticated land-races and both primitive and modern cultivars of T. turgidum revealed high levels of diversity and a large number of alleles that were not detected in the wild emmer populations. This may reflect a long-term domestication process in which wild, semi-domesticated, and domesticated types grew sympatrically, continuing introgression from wild populations, and perhaps also gene flow from trans-specific sources.