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Only plants with the same number of chromosomes can be hybridized to produce fertile offspring with seeds. Since einkorn is the only diploid species of wheat with two sets of chromosomes, it has remained as pure as it was 12,000 years ago. Hybridizing species with different sets of chromosomes create seedless, sterile crops.
The natural genetics of wheat are more complicated than that of most other plants. Wheat was transformed over a period of 10,000 years by hybridization in the wild and in the field and by the constant natural selection of preferred seeds by farmers. Achieving high levels of gluten in modern hybrids became a goal for plant breeders over the last century. Wheat is a unique grain because it contains gluten, which gives dough the ability to rise better when leavened. Many individuals are unable to digest gluten and so modern wheat varieties with higher levels of gluten have naturally increased the incidence of wheat intolerance.
Einkorn has always remained the purest form of wheat. Like einkorn, most plants are diploids, which mean they have one set of chromosomes from a male parent and one from the female parent. When other species of wheat were created, additional sets of chromosomes were added. Emmer wheat was created roughly 2,000 years after einkorn by the hybridization of two wild grasses adding two sets of chromosomes. Kamut®and Durum Wheat are descendants of Emmer. Spelt was the first wheat hybridization that occurred with the help of man between cultivated emmer and a wild grass, creating a species with six sets of chromosomes. Common bread wheat descended from spelt.
Genetic modification (GMO) is a major source of heated debate because it incorporates genes from other organisms in plants. Genetically modified wheat is currently not grown anywhere in the world.