Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Methuselah and Resurrection Genomics

NYU PRESS RELEASE: Scientists Successfully Sequenced the Genome of Previously Extinct Date Palms. This study marks the first time researchers have sequenced the genomes of plants from ancient germinated seeds. (SciTechDaily). This release gives a good overview of the study.

You can read the open-access underlying article at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA website:

The genomes of ancient date palms germinated from 2,000 y old seeds

Muriel Gros-Balthazard, Jonathan M. Flowers, Khaled M. Hazzouri, Sylvie Ferrand, Frédérique Aberlenc, Sarah Sallon, and Michael D. Purugganan

PNAS May 11, 2021 118 (19) e2025337118; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2025337118
Edited by Douglas E. Soltis, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, and approved March 17, 2021 (received for review December 11, 2020)


Resurrection genomics is an alternative to ancient DNA approaches in studying the genetics and evolution of past and possibly extinct populations. By reviving biological material such as germinating ancient seeds from archaeological and paleontological sites, or historical collections, one can study genomes of lost populations. We applied this approach by sequencing the genomes of seven Judean date palms (Phoenix dactylifera) that were germinated from ∼2,000 y old seeds recovered in the Southern Levant. Using this genomic data, we were able to document that introgressive hybridization of the wild Cretan palm Phoenix theophrasti into date palms had occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean by ∼2,200 y ago and examine the evolution of date palm populations in this pivotal region two millennia ago.

For more on Methuselah (the famous resurrected date palm from Masada), his siblings, and another recent study on them by some of the same researchers, see here and links.

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