Kamut wheat, said to have been derived from seed found in the Egyptian pyramids, appeared on the market about 25 years ago. We have investigated its taxonomic placement using microsatellite genotyping. In all, 89 accessions of 13 tetraploid wheat species, along with samples of Kamut wheat, were genotyped using two A and B genome wheat microsatellite markers per chromosome, generating 453 alleles (8–33 alleles per locus), and a mean allelic polymorphic information content (PIC) of 0.80. A diversity analysis showed that nine major accession groups could be defined, and these were inconsistent with formal taxonomic classifications of about 10% of the material. Most of these misclassifications are due to either species introgression or seed admixture. Some accessions appear to be duplicates. The Kamut wheats grouped together in a cluster containing three accessions of Triticum polonicum and three of T. durum, originating from Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Israel. We suggest that Kamut perhaps derived from a natural hybrid between T. durum and T. polonicum, which occurred in the Fertile Crescent.
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