Marcela Sandoval Velasco
Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationU. Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Grant numberGr. 10085
Approve DateApril 8, 2021
Project TitleSandoval Velasco, Marcela (U. Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) "A succulent relationship: Human-Agave interaction and the process of domestication"
The transition from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to sedentary societies relying on the cultivation of domesticated plants was a major cultural shift, which occurred independently in many regions around the world around 10,000 years ago. Despite the importance of this phenomenon, several questions remain unanswered, including details of when, where and which plants were first cultivated and domesticated and the tempo of the process. I propose to undertake a palaeogenomic study of the Agaves, a group of succulent plants from Mesoamerica, that have been extensively used by humans for at least 10,000 years for a wide variety of purposes and a correspondingly rich archaeological record exists. Archaeologists have suggested that agaves could be one of the first cultivated and domesticated plants in Mesoamerica, and, given their long history of human interaction, Agaves likely hold many rich insights into the co-evolution of plants and humans. Through a new approach combining palaeogenomic data – from archaeological Agave samples – and archaeological and ethnobotanical knowledge, this project aims to develop a detailed and holistic understanding of the evolving relationship between humans and Agaves over time, in order to inform and refine theories of how the processes of cultivation and domestication occurred.