Durum Wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. durum) Breeding to Meet the Challenge of Climate Change

  • Pasquale De VitaEmail author
  • Francesca Taranto


Durum wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. durum) is a tetraploid wheat species (2n = 28) planted annually on an estimated area of 18 million ha, representing approximately 8–10% of all the wheat cultivated area in the world, and an annual production ranging from 35–40 million mt. Regions of the Mediterranean Basin and North America (i.e. Canada) produce about 60% of world durum wheat production, mainly used for human consumption as pasta, bulgur, couscous and some breads. In general durum wheat is better adapted to high temperatures and to semiarid climates than bread wheat. In spite of its relatively high adaptability to the marginal and drought environments, the production of durum wheat is threatened by the impacts of climate change, and the need for more sustainable development. This chapter provides an update on progress in genetic improvement of durum wheat and on the tools and strategies to maintain productivity and strengthen food security despite increasing water scarcity, higher temperatures, and the emergence of new pests and diseases. These demand changes in the approaches to crop improvement and require implementing novel approaches in gene discovery and plant breeding. Conventional and modern breeding strategies are discussed to integrate new target traits into varieties. Modelling provides a rational approach to identify desirable traits or combination of traits potentially leading to the specification of wheat ideotypes optimized for target environmental and future climatic conditions. The integration of genomics and phenomics is promising to revolutionize plant breeding providing an exceptional opportunity to identify genetic variation that can be employed in durum wheat breeding programs.


Climate change Durum wheat Marker-assisted breeding Speed breeding High-throughput phenotyping Genomic selection KASP markers 



This work was supported by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) for funding the project HORIZON 2020 PON I&C 2014–2020, INNOGRANO N. F/050393/00/X32.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CREA Research Centre for Cereal and Industrial CropsFoggiaItaly

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