Wheat is one of the most important food crops in the world for human consumption, like all plants it is exposed to environmental stresses including high temperatures. The deleterious effect of high temperatures negatively affects plant growth and development, leading to reduced viability and yield. These effects can be reduced by improvement of thermotolerance through innovative breeding strategies, based on the expansion of the genetic pool available, by exploring important genetic functions from wheat wild progenitors. Improving the genetic thermotolerance characteristics of wheat requires greater understanding of genetic bases of thermotolerance, through identification of high temperature stress related genes. A good source of new useful alleles is given by Aegilops species characterized by thermotolerant habits. In this study we have classified as thermotolerant or thermosensitive, on the basis of physiologic tests, some accessions of wheat wild relative species belonging to Aegilops and Triticum genera. A thermotolerant accession of Aegilops umbellulata (AUM5) was selected, subjected to different thermal treatments and analysed at transcriptional level. By differential display reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (DDRT-PCR), we investigated modulation of gene expression elicited by heat treatments. This approach allowed the identification of various transcript-derived fragments (TDFs) produced by AUM5 in response to different thermal treatments. The functions of the inducible unique genes in the molecular determination of thermotolerance process are discussed. Keywords: Aegilops umbellulata, Cell membrane stability, Differential display RT-PCR, Gene
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