Until now, sedimentary DNA (sedDNA) studies have only focused on cold and temperate regions were DNA is relatively well preserved. Consequently, the tropics, where vegetation is hyperdiverse and natural archives are rare, have been neglected and deserve attention. In this study, we used next-generation sequencing to barcode sedDNA from Lake Sele, localized in the tropical lowlands of Benin (Africa), and compared the taxonomic diversity detected by DNA analyses with pollen assemblages. Plant sedDNA was successfully amplified from 33 of the 34 successfully extracted samples. In total, 43 taxa were identified along the 5000 years spanned by the sediment: 22 taxa were identified at the family level and 21 at the genus level. The plant diversity recovered through sedDNA from Lake Sele showed a specific local signal and limited overlapping with pollen. Introduced plants, grown and cultivated close to the water, such as sweet potato, were also well recorded by sedDNA. It appears, therefore, to be a promising approach to studying past diversity in tropical regions, and could help in tracking the introduction and history of agriculture. This is the first time this method has been used in the field of domestication and dissemination of several specific crops, and the results are very encouraging.
Quaternary Science Reviews – Elsevier
Published: Aug 15, 2017
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