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Experience report

Research Stay, Roger Antonio Sulub Tun (Yucatan Scientific Research Center, Mexico)

“In my six-month research stay (January – June 2023) at the University of Cologne at the group of Dr. Markus Stetter, I worked on the project “Identification of the center of domestication of Amaranthus cruentus L.
Evidence suggests that A. cruentus was first domesticated in Mesoamerica approximately 6000 years ago, but alternative theories propose domestication in a region between Mexico and Central America. To clarify the history of this ancient crop, we used whole genome sequencing of 139 accessions of A. cruentus, A. hybridus, and A. hypochondriacus, primarily sourced from Mexico and Guatemala. The genetic analysis revealed a distinct genetic structure within the A. cruentus population, consisting of three groups. One group predominantly comprised accessions from Guatemala, while the remaining two groups originated from Mexico. Notably, one of the Mexican groups included accessions of the wild relative, suggesting that this group might potentially represent an ancestral lineage. These findings provide support for the hypothesis that A. cruentus originated in Mexico. I was able to present this work at an international conference and we continue our work on the history of the crop through a continued collaboration. The discoveries from this study will contribute valuable insights into the domestication history of A. cruentus, a potentially important grain crop for future food security.
I would like to thank the Competence Area Food Security, because they made it possible for me to work on this project. I thank Markus for the great supervision and for giving me the opportunity to work in his lab.”