Inner Mongolia, earliest millet found

This 2016 video says about itself:

Taste of typical Mongolian food and drinks, such as milk tea, toasted millet, boiled skim milk, cream, and tender finger mutton. When you are offered mare’s milk wine.

From the Google cache.

Inner Mongolia: earliest millet found
Date: 9/2/05 at 4:50PM

Xinhua reports:

Archaeologists discover world earliest millets

BEIJING, Sept. 2 (Xinhuanet) — Chinese archaeologists have recently found the world earliest millets, dated back to about 8,000 years ago, on the grassland in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

A large number of carbonized millets have been discovered by Chinese archaeologists at the Xinglonggou relics site in Chifeng City.

The discovery has changed the traditional opinion that millet, the staple food in ancient north China, originated in the Yellow River valley, Zhao Zhijun, a researcher with the Archaeology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua on Friday.

Carbon-14 dating shows that the millets were from 8,000 to 7,500 years ago.

The ancient millets still keep some features of wildness, said Zhao.

Archaeological discoveries show that the main cereals, including wheat, barley, rice and maize all originated 10,000 to 8,000 years ago.

“The new discovery indicates that millet was no exception,” said Zhao.

He said that China has two centers of agricultural origin. The southern region had rice as the main crop and the northern region had millet as the main crop.

New research uses DNA from the skeletal remains of sheep and goats to show that animals first domesticated in the Near East had reached eastern Kazakhstan by 2700 BC, and that these animals were fed millet grain first domesticated in China to help them survive harsh winters: here.

Researchers track down gene responsible for short stature of dwarf pearl millet: here.

Earliest noodles found in China: here.

World plant domestication timetable: here.

History of silkworm silk: here.

Sunflowers in prehistoric Mexico: here.

Genetically engineered corn [maize] may harm stream ecosystems: here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009. Maize Was Passed from Group to Group of Southwestern Hunter-Gatherers: here.

Tracking the Ancestry of Corn Back 9,000 Years: here.

World’s Oldest Known Granaries Predate Agriculture: here.

The recently acquired archaeological record for soybean from Japan, China and Korea is shedding light on the context in which this important economic plant became associated with people and was domesticated: here.

FINDING RICE IN THE SWAMPS OF AUSTRALIA “In recent decades, an increasing number of geneticists and plant breeders have realized that crops’ wild relatives hold immense value because they have not been domesticated. Instead of being narrowed and homogenized by humans, these crops have produced immeasurable genetic diversity as a result of their natural adaptation to pests, diseases, and climatic fluctuation. Their genes have already begun to help agriculture tackle the enormous challenges it faces today.” [The California Sunday Magazine]

10 thoughts on “Inner Mongolia, earliest millet found

  1. 5,000-year-old wheat suggests early China, Middle East trade

    Wheat grains nearly 5,000 years old found at a Chinese archaeological site two years ago, have revealed that western man travelled to China much earlier than previously thought. The research, published by Professor John Dodson and Professor Xiaoqiang Li, shows there are no modern wild varieties of the wheat and barley, which were found in the region in a domesticated form, and carbon dated to 2,650 BCE.
    It is now thought they originated in the Middle East, which showed exchanges between China hundreds of years before the Silk Road, previously thought to be the earliest contact. “There could have been trade, so I guess we’re saying certainly a trade in technology and ideas,” said Professor Dodson, from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. Professor Dodson added that a major archaeological find in the region in 1987, the Xinjiang mummies, may be evidence of those who brought the wheat from the Middle East. Archaeologists discovered around 100 perfectly preserved corpses in a dry, hilly region in China’s far northwest, which dated at 4,000 years old, and showed Caucasian features.

    Source: ABC Radio Australia (6 December 2007)


  2. Sunflower Genes Yield Traces Of Early Native Americans

    April, 03 2010


    New information about early Native Americans’ horticultural practices comes not from hieroglyphs or other artifacts, but from a suite of four gene duplicates found in wild and domesticated sunflowers.

    In an upcoming issue of Current Biology, Indiana University Bloomington biologists present the first concrete evidence for how gene duplications can lead to functional diversity in organisms. In this case, the scientists learned how duplications of a gene called FLOWERING LOCUS T, or FT, could have evolved and interacted to prolong a flower’s time to grow. A longer flower growth period means a bigger sunflower — presumably an attribute of great value to the plant’s first breeders.

    “Our paper shows how gene duplication creates potential for evolutionary innovation not just through creating new gene content but also through new interactions among duplicates,” said Ben Blackman, the report’s lead author.

    Blackman conducted the research as an IU Bloomington Ph.D. student. He is now a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University.

    Biologists have long thought the accidental duplication of genetic material provides important fodder for evolution. Less risky than modifying an existing, possibly important gene, duplicates offer an out — one copy can continue its normal activities while the other copy acquires new functions. That’s a hypothesis, anyway. The Current Biology paper suggests reality may be a little more complex.

    FT genes play a role in sensitizing flowering plants to seasons, and their expression is usually triggered by changes in day length. Some flowering plants express FT genes early in the growing season as days get longer. Sunflower FT genes are expressed toward the end of the growing season when days are getting shorter. As far as biologists know, all flowering plants have at least one FT gene.

    Blackman and his colleagues identified four FT genes in sunflower, Helianthus annuus, which are known as HaFT paralogs. Each of the paralogs, HaFT1 through HaFT4, has a unique genetic sequence, but is similar enough to the others to conclude three of them were the result of DNA duplication events in sunflower’s distant past.

    “Based on the level of divergence between the various HaFTs and the presence of a single FT copy in lettuce, we inferred that one copy became two during a whole genome doubling event that occurred roughly 30 million years ago,” Blackman said. “One of those copies proliferated further through two small-scale duplications that we infer occurred much more recently.”

    The scientists examined each paralog’s expression patterns within sunflower, and by strategically cloning variants of the HaFT genes into the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, discerned the paralogs’ physiological properties in one another’s presence.

    One of the paralogs, HaFT3, has lost function and is no longer expressed. Countless genome surveys show “non-functionalization” is a common fate for gene duplicates in plants and other eukaryotes, possibly because the extra dose of genetic expression can be wasteful or overtly harmful to the organism.

    Two of the paralogs, HaFT2 and HaFT4, are structurally similar to each other and have retained normal function. The proteins they encode are produced in leaves in response to day length. It is believed the HaFT2 and HaFT4 proteins travel down to the stem and up to the shoot tip, where they compel meristem cells to develop into flower buds, but this has yet to be shown conclusively for Helianthus annuus.

    HaFT1 isn’t produced in the leaves but at the site of HaFT2 and HaFT4’s target — the shoot tip and the green bracts that will radiate out from the flower itself. There are two basic versions of the HaFT1 called alleles. The domesticated HaFT1 allele is distinguished from the wild allele by the omission of a single nucleotide. But what a difference that nucleotide makes. The protein produced from the domesticated HaFT1 is larger than its wild cousin and has a novel domain.

    Only two of the 23 wild populations surveyed possess both types of the HaFT1 allele.

    That is not the case for domesticated sunflower populations, for which the domestic version of HaFT1 completely (or almost completely) dominates. Modern domesticated sunflowers used in farming are homogeneous for domesticated HaFT1. The scientists also examined “landraces,” Native Americans’ own domesticated cultivars, some of which are quite old. These too are dominated by domesticated HaFT1.

    By comparing the activity of domesticated and wild HaFT1, the scientists learned it is the domesticated version of HaFT1 that lengthens the time period during which flowers grow and mature. This can have a wide variety of effects, from increasing the size of the sunflowers’ seed disk to increasing the flowers’ total seed mass.

    Despite its name, domestic HaFT1 isn’t the result of domestication — its origin likely precedes human cultivation. It is called domestic, because it is the version of HaFT1 that caused traits early Native Americans seem to have preferred as they bred the plants for horticulture. Genetic evidence the scientists collected from a broad survey of domesticated and wild HaFT1 genes suggests domesticated HaFT1 experienced a “selective sweep” around the time early Native Americans would have begun cultivating sunflower.

    “Our study is the first to provide both strong functional evidence and strong evolutionary evidence that a particular nucleotide variant in this one gene — HaFT1 — was critical for early sunflower domestication,” Blackman said.

    How HaFT1 was exerting its flower-delaying effects was not clear until the scientists cloned HaFT1, HaFT2 and HaFT4 into Arabidopsis thaliana in different combinations. A. thaliana’s own FT gene had been removed. Cloning genes in this way can eliminate complicating factors when scientists are interested in knowing how a few genes (and the proteins they encode) interact.

    Domesticated HaFT1 had no impact on flowering in the presence of HaFT2. But HaFT1 did delay A. thaliana flowering in the presence of HaFT4. The scientists concluded the newer HaFT1 and older HaFT4 are interacting, possibly directly, in such a way to interfere with HaFT4’s function, thereby delaying flowering.

    “In the sunflower story, what is most interesting in my view is how evolution has exploited both recent and ancient gene duplicates in the same gene family to achieve shifts in flowering time and photoperiod sensitivity,” said IU Bloomington plant evolutionary biologist Loren Rieseberg, the study’s principal investigator.

    Rieseberg has dual appointments at IU Bloomington and the University of British Columbia.

    Jared Strasburg, Andrew Raduski and Scott Michaels also contributed to the research. It was supported with grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.


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