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Einkorn wheat (from German Einkorn, literally "single grain") can refer either to the wild species of wheat, Triticum boeoticum, or to the domesticated form, Triticum monococcum. The wild and domesticated forms are either considered separate species, as here, or as subspecies of T. monococcum. Einkorn is a diploid species of hulled wheat, with tough glumes ('husks') that tightly enclose the grains. The cultivated form is similar to the wild, except that the ear stays intact when ripe and the seeds are larger.
Einkorn wheat is one of the earliest cultivated forms of wheat, alongside emmer wheat (T. dicoccum). Grains of wild einkorn have been found in Epi-Paleolithic sites of the Fertile Crescent. It was first domesticated approximately 7500 BC (7050 BC ≈ 9000 BP), in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) or B (PPNB) periods. Evidence from DNA finger-printing suggests einkorn was domesticated near Karaca Dağ in southeast Turkey, an area in which a number of PPNB farming villages have been found. Its cultivation decreased in the Bronze Age, and today it is a relict crop that is rarely planted, though it has found a new market as a health food. It remains as a local crop, often for bulgur (cracked wheat) or as animal feed, in mountainous areas of France, Morocco, the former Yugoslavia, Turkey and other countries. It often survives on poor soils where other species of wheat fail.
In contrast with more modern forms of wheat, evidence suggests the gliadin protein of einkorn may not be as toxic to sufferers of coeliac disease. It has yet to be recommended in any gluten-free diet.
- Hopf, M.; Zohary, D. (2000). Domestication of Plants in the Old World: The Origin and Spread of Cultivated Plants in West Asia, Europe, and the Nile Valley (3rd ed.). Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. p. 38. ISBN 0-19-850356-3.
- Heun, M.; Schäfer-Pregl, R.; Klawan, D.; Castagna, R.; Accerbi, M.; Borghi, B.; Salamini, F. (1997). "Site of Einkorn Wheat Domestication Identified by DNA Fingerprinting". Science 278 (5341): 1312–1314. doi:10.1126/science.278.5341.1312.
- Zohary and Hopf, Domestication, pp. 33f
- Pizzuti, D.; Buda, A.; d'Odorico, A.; d'Incà, R.; Chiarelli, S.; Curioni, A.; Martines, D. (2006). "Lack of intestinal mucosal toxicity of Triticum monococcum in celiac disease patients". Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 41 (11): 1305–1311. doi:10.1080/00365520600699983. PMID 17060124.
- "World Breakthrough On Salt-Tolerant Wheat". ScienceDaily. March 11, 2012.