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Wheat evolution

Wheat evolution activities (PDF 3.30MB)

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Wheat evolution presentation (PPTX 1.98MB)

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Background

Wheat is a staple crop for a significant proportion of the world’s population. Wheat cultivation began about 12,000 years ago and now occupies more land than any other commercial crop. Varieties of wheat have been developed that produce flours used in a range of foods, including bread, pasta, breakfast cereals and biscuits. Wheat consists of the carbohydrate starch, and gluten – the leading source of vegetable protein in human food. The development of wheat from wild grasses demonstrates the dramatic effect of both evolution and selective breeding on the structure of a crop plant and the chemical makeup of the product harvested from it.

About the resource

This resource is suitable for key stages 3-5 (11-18 years old). The activities illustrate the changes to both the structure and the chemistry of the wheat plant and can be delivered as either a chemistry or a biology lesson. There is information about recent research on wheat and practical activities that can be carried out by students or run as demonstrations. There is also a crossword and word search to help students improve their scientific literacy.