Call to support an English translation of the 1979 Russian taxonomic monograph of Triticum by Dorofeev et al.

Laura A. Morrison1; Iva Faberová2, Anna Filatenko3; Karl Hammer4; Helmut Knüpffer5; Alexei Morgounov6; Sanjaya Rajaram7

While wheat researchers are familiar with the existence of the Russian monograph of Triticum L. (Dorofeev et al.1979), this important taxonomic work is unavailable to the majority of them because of the language barrier. Acceptance also has been problematic because the monograph follows a traditional treatment concept that recognizes all morphological forms of wild and domesticated wheats and excludes the wild species of Aegilops L. This taxonomic approach had already fallen out of favor by the time of its publication in 1979. Thus, Dorofeev et al. has remained in relative obscurity under the dominating influence of the genetic concept of the wheat complex as embodied in the treatments of Morris & Sears (1967), Kimber & Sears (1987) and Kimber & Feldman (1987).

Taxonomy is usually a minor concern for wheat geneticists. However, it promises to play a significant role in the protection of germplasm diversity and intellectual property rights, issues of growing importance in the developing research arena and commercial markets of biotechnology. By virtue of its detailed morphological classification, Dorofeev et al. has direct application to all aspects of biodiversity research – i.e., preservation, cataloguing, and utilization. This monograph provides the only comprehensive worldwide catalogue of all known infraspecific taxa of cultivated and wild wheat species. It is the culmination of a significant scientific effort that dates back to the time of Vavilov’s leadership of the systematic wheat research in Russia. Dorofeev et al. can serve as an authoritative reference for both identifying distinct forms of wild and domesticated wheat and challenging the validity of proprietary claims on wheat genes and genetic lines that rightfully belong within the public domain.

The scientific value of Dorofeev et al. should not be underestimated. To produce such a taxonomic monograph de novo would be extremely difficult in the current research funding climate. Additionally, the combined knowledge and expertise of its authors cannot now be reproduced. An English version would open a wealth of information to botanists, plant breeders, geneticists, genebank managers, and others in the wheat research community. The 25 species and 1,242 infraspecific taxa described in Dorofeev et al. are fully catalogued with botanical descriptions, taxonomic keys, geographic distribution, disease traits, origin, and history. In nomenclature, Dorofeev et al. is unique among the modern taxonomic treatments of Triticum for its detailed synonymy and comprehensive compilation of names – over 3000 names for the wheats are listed in the index.

This project evolved from informal discussions that took place in July 1999 during the Percival Symposium (Wheat – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; University of Reading, UK). Our goal is to finance a quality translation that will be published at an affordable price. Any profits made from an English version of Dorofeev et al. will go into a fund for translation of other significant Russian scientific publications dealing with wheat. In February 2000, permission to proceed with the English translation was obtained from the Vavilov Institute (VIR, St. Petersburg, Russia), the holder of the copyright to the Russian edition of Dorofeev et al. A translator has been identified and various options for publication are currently being explored.

CIMMYT recently pledged $ 5000 to the project fund established to finance the translation and publication. We are posting this announcement to alert the research community of the need for this English translation and to ask for donations to the project fund. A minimum of $ 5000 in matching funds will be required to support the costs of translation and publication. We encourage donations (in US $) from individuals and research entities to be sent to [to be added later]. These contributions will be duly acknowledged in the published translation.


Dorofeev VF, Filatenko AA, Migushova EF, Udaczin RA and Jakubziner MM. 1979. Wheat. In: VF Dorofeev & ON Korovina, eds. Flora of Cultivated Plants, vol. 1. Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Russia. Kolos (in Russian). 346 pp.

Kimber G and. Feldman M. 1987. Wild wheat: an introduction. Special Report. 353. Columbia: College of Agriculture, University of Missouri.

Kimber G and Sears ER. 1987. Evolution in the genus Triticum and the origin of cultivated wheat. In: EG. Heyne, ed. Wheat and wheat improvement. 2nd ed. Madison: American Society of Agronomy, 154-164.

Morris R and Sears ER. 1967. The cytogenetics of wheat and its relatives. In: KS Quisenberry & LP Reitz, eds. Wheat and wheat improvement. Madison: American Society of Agronomy, 19-87.

1 Department of Crop & Soil Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-3002, USA; Fax: +1-541-737-3407;

2 Genebank, Research Institute of Crop Production, Drnovská 507, CZ-161 06 Prague, Czech Republic; Fax: +420 2 330 22286;

3 13-Linija 12, kv. 7, St. Petersburg 199 034, Russia

4 Universität Gesamthochschule Kassel, Steinstraße 11, D-37213 Witzenhausen, Germany; Fax: +49-5542-98-13-09;

5 Genebank, Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK), D-06466 Gatersleben, Germany; Fax: +49-39482-5283;

6 CIMMYT, P.O. Box 374, Almaty 480000, Kazakhstan; Fax: +7-3272-282551;


CIMMYT; Apdo. Postal 6-641; 06600 Mexico, D.F., Mexico; +52 5804 7558;