Shattering (agriculture)

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Spikelets of Einkorn wheat, Triticum monococcum
Shattering in many crops involves dehiscence of the mature fruit, for example, in Brassica napus

In the history of crop domestication, several important advances have involved a mutation in a crop plant that reduced shattering — instead of the seeds being dispersed as soon as they were ripe, the mutant plants retained the seeds for longer, which made harvesting much more effective.

A particularly important mutation that was selected very early in the history of agriculture removed the "brittle rachis" problem from wheat.[1] A ripe head ("ear") of wild-type wheat is easily shattered into dispersal units when touched, or blown by the wind, because during ripening a series of abscission layers forms that divides the rachis into short segments, each attached to a single spikelet (which contains 2–3 grains along with chaff).

A different class of shattering mechanisms involves dehiscence of the mature fruit, which releases the seeds.

Current research priorities to understand the genetics of shattering include the following crops:


  1. ^ Dorian Q. Fuller and Robin Allaby (2009). "Seed Dispersal and Crop Domestications: Shattering, Germination and Seasonality in Evolution under Cultivation". Annual Plant Reviews 38: 238–295. doi:10.1002/9781444314557.ch7. 
  2. ^ Kandemir, N.; Kudrna, D.A.; Ullrich, S.E.; Kleinhofs, A. (2000). "Molecular marker assisted genetic analysis of head shattering in six-rowed barley". TAG Theoretical and Applied Genetics 101 (1): 203–210. doi:10.1007/s001220051470. 
  3. ^ Ivan N. FESENKO 2006. Non-shattering accessions of Fagopyrum tataricum Gaertn. carry recessive alleles at two loci affecting development of functional abscission layer. Fagopyrum 23: 7-10
  4. ^ Brenner, D.M. 2002. Non-shattering grain amaranth populations. p. 104–106. In: J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.), Trends in new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.
  5. ^ S. Hossain, G.P. Kadkol, R. Raman, P.A. Salisbury, and H. Raman. "Breeding Brassica napus for Shatter Resistance". Plant Breeding (PDF). doi:10.5772/29051. ISBN 978-953-307-932-5.