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The polymorphisms in two γ-gliadin genes GAG56D and GAG56B on the D- and B-genomes of polyploid wheat, respectively, were investigated by sequencing PCR products and by PCR-RFLP. Of GAG56D, two alleles fo and ok were previously known to occur in hexaploid wheat. Here, we found that 16 sequenced fragments of GAG56D from six recognized subspecies of Triticum aestivum, including 13 contributed by this study, were identical to either the fo or the ok allele. Considering published evidence, it was concluded that the investigated alleles of GAG56D stemmed from two different Aegilops tauschii plants and thus two independent origins of hexaploid wheat. Compared to GAG56D-sequences obtained from 10 accessions of Ae. tauschii, the fo and ok alleles clustered with fragments from three accessions collected in the Caspian region. By sequencing fragments of GAG56B, four distinct allelic groups were found among cultivated wheats, typical of bread wheat (p-aes), durum wheat of gliadin 45-type (a), durum wheat of gliadin 42-type (p-dur) and Timopheev's wheat (p-tim), respectively. Interestingly, the a allele found in gliadin 45-type durum wheat was shared by European spelt cultivars, which strongly supported the hypothesis that European spelt originated from a hybridization event between a tetra- and hexaploid wheat. The data also suggested that emmer might have been domesticated more than once. Phylogenetic analysis of GAG56-fragments obtained from putative B/G-genome donors excluded all candidate species as immediate donors of the B/G-genome, but instead indicated a monophyletic origin of all GAG56B alleles found in polyploid wheat, i.e. including T. timopheevii.