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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

Menu Logo Principal Clermont Auvergne University


Joint Research Unit 1095 Genetics, Diversity and Ecophysiology of Cereals

Topic 2: Micro-evolution

Ancient DNA sequencing offers a unique opportunity to retrieve genetic information from past individuals. Besides solving phylogenetic questions regarding evolution, admixture, hybridization events, relationships between species or populations, domestication and improvement processes, aDNA can provide new possibilities for addressing a number of issues related to plant adaptation and diversification. There is much to learn from the aDNA of early crops and their propagation and local adaptation outside of their native domestication area. In particular, the possibility to obtain reliable estimates of the allelic trajectory at virtually any genomic locus during the major climate transitions that have occurred in the past opens an avenue towards the identification of the genetic variants that underlie adaptation to novel environmental conditions. They could represent priority targets for breeders and/or top-candidates for reintroduction into modern germplasms.


Scientific insights gained from plant aDNA, as exemplified by wheat. The geological periods are indicated at the top (orange arrow) above the associated temperature profiles (blue curve) and key climatic changes. The known historical routes of wheat migration from the site of origin (Fertile Crescent) are indicated by green arrows: westwards via an inland route (through the Balkans to Central Europe) or along a coastal path (via Anatolia to the Mahgreb and Iberian peninsula); or eastwards via routes to the north and along the Inner Asian Mountain Corridor. Major migration phases are shown in different colors on the time scale. Diploid, tetraploid and hexaploid wheats are depicted as colored circles (green, red and blue colors) with mixed colors reflecting hybridization events. Wheat aDNA offers the opportunity to investigate the impact of migration, translocation, extinction and hybridization events in shaping the modern genetic diversity and in driving adaptation to environmental constraints (temperature variation) over 10,000 years of domestication and cultivation.

Main reference from the group:
Pont C, Wagner S, Kremer A, Orlando L, Plomion C, Salse J (2019b) Paleogenomics: reconstruction of plant evolutionary trajectories using modern and ancient DNA. Genome Biol.