Genomics of ancient crops and domestication

Group Leaders
Laura R. Botigué
CSIC Scientist
Group Members
Genomics of ancient crops and domestication

General research support

Postdoctoral Researchers

Undergrad or Master Students


Plant domestication and the development of agriculture is a topic of interest in a wide variety of fields. Comparison of wild and domestic specimens holds the key to identifying the genetic basis of traits of interest in agriculture. From an evolutionary genomics perspective, domestication redirected plant development to meet human needs, sometimes even exposing the same wild ancestor to different selective pressures from which different crops evolved. Finally, the process itself was a milestone in human evolution, as it changed human societies and the way they interacted. 

In our group we want to unveil the domestication process for different crops by using the genomic data of modern and ancient specimens. We use population genetics theory, biostatistic and bioinformatic tools that we develop to characterise genetic variation of ancient specimens and analyse it in the context of modern genetic variation. Our goal is to gain insights into the genetic architecture of past populations, the dispersal of domestic varieties though the globe and the identification of regions of the genome that are of agricultural interest. We are currently working towards the understanding of emmer wheat, barley and chickpea domestication. We also have projects on population genetics of domestic animals, namely a project on European domestic dogs from the Neolithic to the Roman Period and a project on modern goat breed characterisation.

Selected Publications

Ananyo Choudhury, Shaun Aron, Laura R. Botigué, Dhriti Sengupta, Gerrit Botha, Taoufik Bensellak, Gordon Wells, Judit Kumuthini, Daniel Shriner, Yasmina J. Fakim, Anisah W. Ghoorah, Eileen Dareng, Trust Odia, Oluwadamilare Falola, Ezekiel Adebiyi, Scott Hazelhurst, Gaston Mazandu, Oscar A. Nyangiri, Mamana Mbiyavanga, Alia Benkahla, Samar K. Kassim, Nicola Mulder, Sally N. Adebamowo, Emile R. Chimusa, Donna Muzny, Ginger Metcalf, Richard A. Gibbs, TrypanoGEN Research Group, Charles Rotimi, Michèle Ramsay, H3Africa Consortium, Adebowale A. Adeyemo, Zané Lombard & Neil A. Hanchard.
High-depth African genomes inform human migration and Health
(2020) Nature 586(7831), 741-748

Scott MF*, Botigué LR*, Brace S, Stevens C, Mullin VE, Stevenson A, Thomas MG, Fuller DQ, Mott R. 
A 3,000-year-old Egyptian emmer wheat genome reveals dispersal and domestication history 
(2019) Nature Plants 5:1120-1128

Botigué LR*, Song S*, Scheu A*, Gopalan S, Pendleton AL, Oetjens M, Taravella A, Seregély T, Zeeb-Lanz A, Arbogast RM, Bobo A, Unterländer M, Daly K, Kidd JM, Burger J, Veeramah KR.
Genomic analysis of early farming dogs in Central Europe. 
(2017) Nature Communications 8:16082.

Henn BM*, Botigué LR*, Peischl S, Dupanloup I, Lipatov M, Maples BK, Martin AR, Musharoff S, Cann H, Snyder MP, Excoffier L, Kidd JM, Bustamante CD. 
Distance from sub-Saharan Africa predicts mutational load in diverse human genomes. 
(2016) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(4):E440-9