Triticum aestivum (also known as T. vulgare) is a hexaploid, and is bread wheat, which is the most important crop in the world. Triticum durum is a tetraploid and is pasta wheat, which has a very high gluten content, and is used for making pasta (e.g., macaroni, spaghetti, etc.) and couscous, or semolina. Diploid wheats also occur but none is economically important.
Wheat is a major staple (c.f., rice and maize) and it permitted the growth of civilisations in the Fertile Crescent, ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, northern India, and modern Europe. The Indo-European languages are associated with the spread of wheat cultivation, according to the Renfrew hypothesis.
Wheat breeding for pest and disease resistance during the twentieth century has concentrated almost totally on both vertical resistance, and early maturity, which was aimed at disease escape. There is enormous scope for breeding for horizontal resistance, and wheat is an excellent challenge for the more adventurous plant breeding clubs. The use of a male gametocide is recommended in order to obtain large heterogeneous populations for recurrent mass selection .
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