Article Metrics


Online attention

Seed coat thinning during horsegram (Macrotyloma uniflorum) domestication documented through synchrotron tomography of archaeological seeds

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-05244-w DOI Help

Authors: Charlene Murphy (University College London) , Dorian Q. Fuller (University College London)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Scientific Reports , VOL 7

State: Published (Approved)
Published: July 2017
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 12082

Open Access Open Access

Abstract: Reduction of seed dormancy mechanisms, allowing for rapid germination after planting, is a recurrent trait in domesticated plants, and can often be linked to changes in seed coat structure, in particular thinning. We report evidence for seed coat thinning between 2,000 BC and 1,200 BC, in southern Indian archaeological horsegram (Macrotyloma uniflorum), which it has been possible to document with high precision and non-destructively, through high resolution x-ray computed tomography using a synchrotron. We find that this trait underwent stepped change, from thick to semi-thin to thin seed coats, and that the rate of change was gradual. This is the first time that the rate of evolution of seed coat thinning in a legume crop has been directly documented from archaeological remains, and it contradicts previous predictions that legume domestication occurred through selection of pre-adapted low dormancy phenotypes from the wild.

Journal Keywords: Archaeology; Plant domestication

Subject Areas: Archaeological and Cultural Heritage, Biology and Bio-materials

Instruments: I13-2-Diamond Manchester Imaging