Genes of 6000-year-old barley grains sequenced for first time

Jul 21, 2016 14:09 IST

Ancient BarleyScientists for the first time succeeded in sequencing the genes in 6000-year-old barley seeds.

With this, the ancient barley has become the oldest plant genome to be reconstructed to date. Before this, only prehistoric corn was genetically reconstructed.

The findings were published in the journal Nature Genetics on 18 July 2016.

Key facts related to the sequencing of the barley

The 6000-year-old Chalcolithic barley grains were retrieved from Yoram Cave in Israel, close to the Dead Sea.

Genetically, the prehistoric barley is very similar to present-day barley grown in the Southern Levant.

It supports the existing hypothesis of barley domestication having occurred in the Upper Jordan Valley.

The analysed grains, together with tens of thousands of other plant remains, were retrieved during a systematic archaeological excavation headed by Uri Davidovich, from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Nimrod Marom, from University of Haifa in Israel.

In order to determine the age of the ancient seeds, the researchers split the grains and subjected half of them to radiocarbon dating. The other half of the grain was used to extract the ancient DNA.

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