ANR ArkaeoAG

History, origin and spread of Agriculture: new evidences from Archaebotany and Paleogenomics

ArkaeoAG aims at tracing the origin and spread of Agriculture during the Holocene as a major process in the socio-economic structuring of modern civilization. Apart from representing one flagship example of the French culture, which is internationally recognized through it breadmaking culture, wheat is a model crop for which the reconstruction of micro-evolutionary steps of domestication can inform precisely about Human population history (origins, contacts, movements). The project brings together specialists in paleogenomics, evolutionary biology, archaeobotany, carpology and palaeoecology for the study of wheat  remains (Triticum spp.) preserved in sediments. The integration of archaeobotanic (investigating past human-plant interactions) and paleogenomic (investigating ancient DNA) data will provide novel insights into the fascinating history of a plant species – wheat – that, since its origin in the Fertile Crescent in the early Neolithic period, has spread with human communities to all continents to become the main cereal crop worldwide, comprising nowadays several thousand recorded modern  varieties adapted to a wide range of environments and human uses. Overall, ArkaeoAG is aimed at (i) the reconstruction of micro-evolutionary steps of wheat domestication (origin and expansion) as the result of human population history (migration, admixture, culture and selection), and (ii) the characterization of intermediate or extinct alleles of trait-related genes that could benefit future breeding strategies and conservation programmes, in line with in the development of a sustainable Agriculture.

Main coordinator : J Salse, INRA Clermont-Ferrand