Researchers composed of more than 60 scientists from seven countries have published the results of their study detailing the sequence of the durum wheat genome. By comparing the durum wheat to its wild relative, the researchers were able to examine the order and structure of its genes. They were then able to look at the gene's blueprint that lead them to quickly identify which genes are responsible for the different specific desirable plant traits. According to one of the scientists, identifying the gene's DNA signatures is critical to the evolution and breeding of the durum wheat, as they are now able to understand which combination of genes is driving a specific signature that needs to be focused on and maintained during breeding. They were also able to uncover and map areas of genetic diversity loss that resulted in recovering beneficial genes lost during centuries of breeding.
Further investigation also allowed researchers to locate the gene responsible for the accumulation of cadmium. They then discovered how to significantly reduce cadmium levels in the grain to ensure the wheat's safety and nutritional value based on the World Health Organization's standards.
Durum wheat is mainly used as the raw material for pasta and couscous production, and is one of the food staples of today's population. The demand for more, safer and higher-quality durum wheat has been increasing over the years. The significance of the study allows future scientists to explore the genetics of the durum wheat's genetics of gluten proteins and the factors that control its nutritional properties.