Back to the Future - Tapping into Ancient Grains for Food Diversity

Trends Plant Sci. 2016 Sep;21(9):731-737. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2016.05.005. Epub 2016 Jun 27.


Einkorn, emmer, and spelt are old wheat species that have fed the world for centuries before they have nearly completely been replaced by modern bread wheat. Nowadays, the diversity of these old species lies frozen in gene banks and rare attempts aim to exploit them as a source for genetic diversity in modern wheat breeding. Here, we want to raise a debate on a more holistic exploitation of ancient species via their direct introduction to the consumer market as high quality products. Although exemplified only for ancient wheat species, this innovative self-financing strategy can be directly extended to other species. A central requirement for this concept is intensive communication, coordination, and interdisciplinary research along the entire production chain from farm to fork.

Keywords: ancient species; biodiversity and food diversity; interdisciplinary research; product chain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breeding
  • Food*
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Genetic Variation / physiology*
  • Genotype
  • Triticum / genetics
  • Triticum / physiology