Andrew L. Hipp, Desanka Lazic

Ancient tree genomes for old questions

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Most foundational work on the evolution and migration of plant species relies on genomic data from contemporary samples. Ancient plant samples can give us access to allele sequences and distributions on the landscape dating back to the mid Holocene or earlier (Gugerli et al., 2005). Nuclear DNA from ancient wood, however, has been mostly inaccessible until now. In a From the Cover article in this issue of Molecular Ecology, Wagner et al. (2023) present the first resequenced nuclear genomes from ancient oak wood, including two samples dated to the 15th century and one that dates to more than 3500 years ago. These ancient tree genomes open the possibility for investigating species adaptation, migration, divergence, and hybridisation in the deep past. They pave the way for what we hope will be a new era in the use of paleogenomics to study Holocene tree histories.

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