A tale of textiles: Genetic characterization of historical paper mulberry barkcloth from Oceania
Humans introduced paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) from Taiwan into the Pacific over 5000 years ago as a fiber source to make barkcloth textiles that were, and still are, important cultural artifacts throughout the Pacific. We have used B. papyrifera, a species closely associated to humans, as a proxy to understand the human settlement of the Pacific Islands. We report the first genetic analysis of paper mulberry textiles from historical and archaeological contexts (200 to 50 years before present) and compare our results with genetic data obtained from contemporary and herbarium paper mulberry samples. Following stringent ancient DNA protocols, we extracted DNA from 13 barkcloth textiles. We confirmed that the fiber source is paper mulberry in nine of the 13 textiles studied using the nuclear ITS-1 marker and by statistical estimates. We detected high genetic diversity in historical Pacific paper mulberry barkcloth with a set of ten microsatellites, showing new alleles and specific genetic patterns. These genetic signatures allow tracing connections to plants from the Asian homeland, Near and Remote Oceania, establishing links not observed previously (using the same genetic tools) in extant plants or herbaria samples. These results show that historic barkcloth textiles are cultural materials amenable to genetic analysis to reveal human history and that these artifacts may harbor evidence of greater genetic diversity in Pacific B. papyrifera in the past.
Artículo de publicación ISI
Quote ItemPLoS ONE Volumen: 15 Número: 5 Número de artículo: e0233113 May 18 2020
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