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Sequenced genome of extinct date palms germinated from 2000-year-old seeds

NYUAD studies genome sequences of extinct date palms germinated from 2,000-year-old seeds

One of the date palms that germinated from a 2,200-year-old seed that now grows in Israel. Credit: Sarah Salon

Researchers at the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology in Abu Dhabi, New York, have successfully sequenced the genome of previously extinct varieties of date palms that lived more than 2,000 years ago. They did this by using date palm seeds, which were discovered by archeological sites in the southern region of the Levant and given with radiocarbon from the 4th century BC. The seeds had sprouted to give viable, new plants. The researchers performed a complete genomic sequencing of these sprouted ancient specimens and used this genomic data to study the genetics of these previously extinct Jewish date palms. This study marks the first time researchers have sequenced plant genomes from ancient germinated seeds.

By studying the genome of a species (Phoenix dactylifera L.) that flourished centuries ago, biology professor Michael D. Purugganan and his colleagues at NYUAD, along with research partners in Israel and France, were able to see how these plants evolved. over a period of time. In this case, they observed that between the 4th century BC and the 2nd century AD, the date palms in the eastern Mediterranean began to show increasing levels of genes of another species, Phoenix theophrasti, which grows today. in Crete and some other Greek islands such as southwestern Turkey, as a result of hybridization between species. They concluded that the increasing level of P. theophrasti genes during this period showed the growing influence of the Roman Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Their findings are reported in “Genomes of ancient date palms germinated from 2000-year-old seeds”

;, published in the journal Notices of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We are fortunate that date palm seeds can live a long time – in this case more than 2,000 years – and germinate with minimal DNA damage in the arid environment of the region,” Purugganan said. This “genomic resurrection” approach is a remarkably effective way to study the genetics and evolution of past and possibly extinct species such as the Jewish date palms. By reviving biological material such as the germination of ancient seeds from archaeological, paleontological sites or historical collections, we can not only study the genomes of lost populations, but in some cases rediscover genes that may have disappeared in modern varieties. ”

Using genomic data, researchers unlock the history of the North African date palm

More information:
Muriel Gros-Balthazard el al., “Genomes of ancient date palms germinated from 2000 y old seeds,” PNAS (2021). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.2025337118

Provided by New York University

Quote: Sequenced genome of extinct date palms germinated from 2000-year-old seeds (2021, May 3), extracted on May 4, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-sequenced-genome-extinct -date-palms.html

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