January 22, 2011

Near Eastern Grape domestication

Kambiz links to an interesting paper on grape domestication. From the paper:
Archaeological evidence suggests that grape domestication took place in the South Caucasus between the Caspian and Black Seas and that cultivated vinifera then spread south to the western side of the Fertile Crescent, the Jordan Valley, and Egypt by 5,000 y ago (1, 21). Our analyses of relatedness between vinifera and sylvestris populations are consistent with archaeological data and support a geographical origin of grape domestication in the Near East (Fig. 4 and Table 1).
The genetic confirmation of the archaeological inference is particularly interesting, since "wine"is part of the Proto-Indo-European lexicon, and has related forms in both Kartvelian (South Caucasian) and Semitic languages. The Transcaucasus seems a quite good place to seek early contact between these three language families. Interestingly, the area between the Black Sea and Caspian is also where genetic analysis of Indo-Aryan origins has brought me.

PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1009363108

Genetic structure and domestication history of the grape

Sean Myles et al.

The grape is one of the earliest domesticated fruit crops and, since antiquity, it has been widely cultivated and prized for its fruit and wine. Here, we characterize genome-wide patterns of genetic variation in over 1,000 samples of the domesticated grape, Vitis vinifera subsp. vinifera, and its wild relative, V. vinifera subsp. sylvestris from the US Department of Agriculture grape germplasm collection. We find support for a Near East origin of vinifera and present evidence of introgression from local sylvestris as the grape moved into Europe. High levels of genetic diversity and rapid linkage disequilibrium (LD) decay have been maintained in vinifera, which is consistent with a weak domestication bottleneck followed by thousands of years of widespread vegetative propagation. The considerable genetic diversity within vinifera, however, is contained within a complex network of close pedigree relationships that has been generated by crosses among elite cultivars. We show that first-degree relationships are rare between wine and table grapes and among grapes from geographically distant regions. Our results suggest that although substantial genetic diversity has been maintained in the grape subsequent to domestication, there has been a limited exploration of this diversity. We propose that the adoption of vegetative propagation was a double-edged sword: Although it provided a benefit by ensuring true breeding cultivars, it also discouraged the generation of unique cultivars through crosses. The grape currently faces severe pathogen pressures, and the long-term sustainability of the grape and wine industries will rely on the exploitation of the grape's tremendous natural genetic diversity.



Andrew Lancaster said...

The case of PIE woinom is an interesting one for your ideas about PIE, for sure. Like "wheel" it has been suggested that it may actually be a loan FROM PIE to Semitic, because it seems to be based on a PIE verb, in this case a verb to twist, which is also related to IE words for vines.

Jack said...

The way I see it an Indo-Aryan origin north of the Black Sea is compatible with this grape and wine theory.

Gioiello said...

But if *woinom is Indo-Aryan more than Indo-European, then North of Black Sea 5,000 years ago lived the former and not the latter. Indo-Europeans are more ancient and Western IE-s lived in Western Europe where we find them in historical times and also Aryans can have come from Central-Western Europe, etc. etc.

Andrew Lancaster said...

Jack I tend to agree, but I think it is worth keeping score on evidence pushing us in different directions. I think the broad version of Dienekes' hope/proposal/idea is that PIE had its home "somewhere near" the Middle East which does count the Caucusus, and is not so far from what most evidence points to.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I don't really agree with any of you. I have no stake in PIE or any other language but this Eurocentric need to move the origins of the language closer to mother Europa is becoming an obsession. Sometimes I think the Babel answer to language origins is preferable.

I am confused. If the grapevine originated in the Caucasus region that cannot be a Near East origin as the Near East does not go to the Caucasus. It is likely the grape was domesticated in the Caucasus and spread from there to the Near East, and later to Europe.

It would be interesting to know whether the wild forms of grapevines, ssp, sylvestris, are feral forms of the cultivated vine, or the descendants of pure wild forms never in cultivation.

Jack said...

Pontic-Caspian steppe "eurocentric" ?
I wonder if my instinctive idea of Europe goes that far...
I am not even 100% sure it goes much beyond Vienna.

Anonymous said...

The region between the Pontic and Caspian Seas is usually considered to be Europe by most people and includes the Ukraine and Russia. Maybe to me, as a strict Mediterranean person, that is not Europa but part of Asia. Whatever it is still home to Caucasoid people.

There is a lot of Eurocentrism in genetic and linguistic studies. It is not the same Eurocentrism that Americans complain about just a deep desire by Europeans to prove themselves autochthones and unmixed with extraneous Caucasoids especially from the Near East. The Caucasus is however acceptable.

The Caucasus region seems to have provided many of the Neolithic farmers along with Anatolia more so than the Mesopotamia and the Levant. It seems that includes the grapevine.

eurologist said...

It would be interesting to know whether the wild forms of grapevines, ssp, sylvestris, are feral forms of the cultivated vine, or the descendants of pure wild forms never in cultivation.

I have never seen that questioned. Also, in Fig. 4 of the paper you can clearly see that sylvestris - when projected on to the PC1/2 space of vinifera - lies completely outside, except for the Caucasian and most eastern varieties.

As to PIE, I don't see one can make a significant argument, here. I agree that "wine" and "winding" are related in many IE languages. However, I find the Caucasus a rather isolated, conservative, easily defended-against area after introduction of agriculture, with significant protection against climate fluctuations (due to its geography and varied resources) - but not an area from which much expansion ever occurred.

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

India's national tipple, toddy, however, appears to have Dravidian, rather than Indo-European roots:

"Toddy originally meant ‘palm sap’. It was an alteration of an earlier tarry, which was borrowed from Hindi tārī. This was a derivative of tār ‘palm tree’, a descendant of Sanskrit tāla or tāra, which in turn was probably borrowed from a Dravidian language of southern India (Kannada has tar, Telugu tādu). This palm sap was used as a drink, often in a potently fermented form, and in the 18th century toddy came to denote a hot spirit-based drink."

From here.

Palm wine is also traditional in Africa, although the pre-historic time of origin of each is obscure.

eurologist said...

...not an area from which much expansion ever occurred.

I should clarify once again, after introduction and establishment of agriculture, when other areas had vastly larger resources suitable to agriculture. However, during the peak of the ice age and again during the Younger Dryas, there is no question that the Caucasus played its own important role of harboring a very important segment of the western Asian population branch.