Genome of 6,000-year-old barley grains sequenced for first time

July 19, 2016
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The international research revealed the secrets of the oldest barley grains on the Earth. The scientists from several universities have succeeded for the first time in sequencing the genome of grains from Chalcolithic period. The seed is 6,000-year-old, it was found in Yoram Cave close to the southern cliff of Masada fortress, Israeli Judean Desert.

The genetics could sequence for the first time the genome of 6,000-year-old barley grain, which was found in the cave close to the Dead Sea in Israel. In other words, the scientists have genetically reconstructed this unique prehistoric corn. The results of this international project published in the journal Nature Genetics.

According to Verena Schuenemann, co-author of the study, this prehistoric barley is extremely similar to present-day barley grown in the Southern Levant. DNA didn’t change too much during the 6,000 years, that could support the hypothesis of barley domestication having occurred in the Jordan Valley, its upper site.

The scientists have succeeded in their efforts, which combined not only archaeology and genetics but other fields of the modern sciences. Researchers on archaeobotany and computational genomics were extremely useful in this study of the oldest grain. As Verena Schuenemann from Tübingen University noted:

“This is just the beginning of a new and exciting line of research.”

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