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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Unlocking the genetic potential of Ethiopian durum wheat landraces with high protein quality: Sources to be used in future breeding for pasta production

Mulugeta, Behailu; Tesfaye, Kassahun; Ortiz, Rodomiro; Geleta, Mulatu; Haileselassie, Teklehaimanot; Hammenhag, Cecilia; Hailu, Faris; Johansson, Eva


The content and composition of the grain storage proteins in wheat determine to a high extent its end-use quality for pasta and bread production. This study aimed to evaluate the content and composition of the grain storage proteins in Ethiopian landraces and cultivars to contribute to future breeding toward improved pasta quality. Thus, 116 landraces and 34 cultivars originating from Ethiopia were grown in three locations, and the protein parameters were analyzed using size exclusion-high performance liquid chromatography (SE-HPLC). A considerable variation in the amount of the analyzed protein parameters was found. The genotypes, environments, and interactions contributed significantly (p < 0.001) to the differences obtained. The broad-sense heritability was high (0.75-0.98) for all protein parameters except for unextractable small monomeric protein (uSMP). Using the principal component analysis (PCA) to evaluate the impact of protein parameters and using either PCA or unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean (UPGMA) to assess the impact of the genetic composition, the cultivar group was found to form a separate cluster. This indicates that durum wheat improvement in Ethiopia has relied on exotic materials, which might result from a narrow genetic base. Unlike most landraces, most released cultivars showed a high and stable gluten strength across environments. Two landraces, G057 and G107, were found genetically distinct from the released cultivars but with high and stable gluten. The two selected landraces might be of extremely high value for future use in durum wheat breeding programs, as they might be adapted to wide-ranging Ethiopian growing conditions, they might carry genes of relevance to withstand abiotic and biotic stresses, and they seem to hold essential protein properties, which might result in high-quality grains for industrial processes.


durum wheat; grain storage protein; HPLC; landraces; polymeric protein

Published in

Food and energy security
2024, Volume: 13, number: 1, article number: e511