Nottingham BBSRC Wheat Research Centre

Exploitation of Inter-specific Diversity of Durum Wheat Improvement


The importance of Durum Wheat:

Durum wheat significantly out yields bread wheat cultivars in certain regions of Mexico under irrigated conditions and in the drier highlands of North Africa and the Middle East. Approximately 11 million hectares sown with durum cultivars per annum globally (in addition to the traditional bread wheat varieties, Indian farmers cultivate a staggering 1.5 million hectares of durum wheat -Triticum turgidum ssp. Durum) in the central zones (Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, parts of Punjab, south Rajasthan, and Maharashtra).

The high gluten strength of the durum grains and their characteristic golden colour produce a type of flour (semolina - sooji) that is ideal for making pasta, cuscus, burgul, rava dosa, flat breads, and many types of sweets. Also, from the whole grain of durum the Atta flour is derived, which is used for making roti, chapati and parathas. Because of the many end-products derived from durum, grain from this crop receives a premium in all markets globally. Furthermore, in many parts of the World, including North Africa, the Middle East, India, Pakistan, and also Southern Europe and Australia, durum products constitute more than seven meals each week per person. Hence, durum wheat is an important crop, well differentiated from bread wheat, which deserves full attention in the light of feeding an ever-increasing global population.

The importance of durum wheat is further demonstrated by the fact that ICARDA, CIMMYT and ICAR all have major breeding programmes for this crop.

Programme Objective:   

This programme is funded by the Crop Trust to facilitate the expansion of the genetic diversity of wheat through the use of wheat crop wild relatives. Introgressions from wild hexaploid wheat were transferred into durum wheat. These introgressions will be exploited to develop superior higher yielding durum varieties that are adapted to the changing environment. This programme is in close collaboration with ICARDA and CIMMYT and the ICAR and all material produced will be IP free.

Adding new diversity into an ancient crop


ICARDA - Filippo Bassi

CIMMYT - Karim Ammar

ICAR - Bhudeva Tyagi



Cimmyt _220




Crop wild relatives logo



Nottingham BBSRC Wheat Research Centre

Department of Plant and Crop Science
The University of Nottingham
School of Biosciences
Sutton Bonington Campus
Leics, LE12 5RD

Tel: +44 (0) 115 951 6014