Background Rye, L. their genetic clustering was more dependent on geographical origin than taxonomic classification. was found to be the most likely wild ancestor of cultivated rye. Among cultivated rye landraces from Europe, Asia and North Africa five geographically discrete genetic clusters were identified. These had only limited overlap with major agro-climatic zones. Slash-and-burn rye from the Finnmark area in Scandinavia formed a distinct cluster with little similarity to other landrace ryes. Regional buy Isoliensinine studies of Northern and South-West Europe demonstrate different genetic distribution patterns as a result of varying cultivation intensity. Conclusions With the exception of and different rye taxa share the majority of the genetic variation. Due to the vast sharing of genetic diversity within the clade, ascertainment bias seems to be a lesser problem in rye than in predominantly selfing species. By exploiting within accession diversity geographic structure can be buy Isoliensinine shown on a much finer scale than previously reported. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-016-0710-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users. L.) has the ability to thrive and to produce high yields also under adverse environmental conditions [1, 2]. It is unique amongst old-world graminoid cereals for being an out-breeder (wind cross-pollinated) and thus constitutes an important species for comparative studies in crop evolution. Turkey, Transcaucasia, Iran and Central Asia are believed to be centres of domestication of rye but it is still unclear which route rye followed as it was introduced into Europe: north of the Black and Caspian seas into central Europe (and from here to the Balkans) or along the Mediterranean route followed by the other Neolithic cereals . Rye was long a staple crop in central and northern Europe and Russia, but has been cultivated to a much lesser extent in other parts of Europe. In Fennoscandia (Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark), rye became a dominant food crop in early Medieval times [4, 5]. Especially in Finland rye was a staple crop and the main produce in the slash-and-burn farming systems practiced until the early 20th century . During the 20th century, rye cultivation in Europe, including Fennoscandia, declined and the buy Isoliensinine worldwide rye production was 16.7 million tonnes in 2013, making it only the 24th most produced crop [http://faostat3.fao.org]. Cultivated rye is a diploid annual grass. Different taxonomies have been proposed for the SIGLEC6 genus [7C10]. Recent studies have been conducted using molecular markers such as rDNA-ITS , 5S-rDNA , AFLPs [13, 14] and SSRs , but the taxonomy of the genus remains inconclusive. The relationship between cultivated, weedy, feral and true wild forms is also elusive . For its simplicity, in this paper we follow the Sencer and Hawkes  classification with cultivated rye classified as the species subsp. species some weedy forms are included (subsp. and (subsp. . It is still debated whether cultivated rye was domesticated from one or both of these two wild species . In the most recent morphology-based taxonomy Frederiksen and buy Isoliensinine Petersen  considered only three species: the annual wild (= as subspecies. In many crops a large proportion of the genetic diversity of the species can be found in unimproved domesticated varieties, known as landraces. These can be defined as dynamic buy Isoliensinine population(s) of a cultivated plant that has historical origin, distinct identity and lacks formal crop improvement, as well as often being genetically diverse, locally adapted and associated with traditional farming systems . As a result of long lasting cultivation at their particular locations, landraces are likely to reflect the historical origins and the selection and adaptation processes affecting crops . Thus, crop landraces are a superior material compared to elite breeds when it comes to the investigation of the distribution of genetic diversity resulting from crop evolutionary processes. Genebanks.