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A new light on the evolution and propagation of prehistoric grain pests: the world's oldest maize weevils found in Jomon Potteries, Japan.

Obata H, Manabe A, Nakamura N, Onishi T, Senba Y - PLoS ONE (2011)

Bottom Line: These specimens are the oldest harmful insects in the world discovered at archaeological sites.Our results provide evidence of harmful insects living in the villages from the Earliest Jomon, when no cereals were cultivated.Although details of their biology or the foods they infested remain unclear, we hope future interdisciplinary collaborations among geneticists, entomologists, and archaeologists will provide the missing details.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Faculty of Letters, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan.

ABSTRACT
Three Sitophilus species (S. granarius L., S. oryzae L., and S. zeamais Mots.) are closely related based on DNA analysis of their endosymbionts. All are seed parasites of cereal crops and important economic pest species in stored grain. The Sitophilus species that currently exist, including these three species, are generally believed to be endemic to Asia's forested areas, suggesting that the first infestations of stored grain must have taken place near the forested mountains of southwestern Asia. Previous archaeological data and historical records suggest that the three species may have been diffused by the spread of Neolithic agriculture, but this hypothesis has only been established for granary weevils in European and southwestern Asian archaeological records. There was little archeological evidence for grain pests in East Asia before the discovery of maize weevil impressions in Jomon pottery in 2004 using the "impression replica" method. Our research on Jomon agriculture based on seed and insect impressions in pottery continued to seek additional evidence. In 2010, we discovered older weevil impressions in Jomon pottery dating to ca. 10 500 BP. These specimens are the oldest harmful insects in the world discovered at archaeological sites. Our results provide evidence of harmful insects living in the villages from the Earliest Jomon, when no cereals were cultivated. This suggests we must reconsider previous scenarios for the evolution and propagation of grain pest weevils, especially in eastern Asia. Although details of their biology or the foods they infested remain unclear, we hope future interdisciplinary collaborations among geneticists, entomologists, and archaeologists will provide the missing details.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) images of the maize weevil impression replicas obtained from potsherds from the Sanbonmatsu Site.Maize weevil impressions on pottery (a), pottery section illustrations with rubbings (b), photos of cavities (c), and SEM images of the impression replicas (d,e,f). The white circles indicate the position of the cavities in the pottery. “A” and “B” show the positions of the potsherds with maize weevil impressions in pottery samples SBM0060, SBM0061, SBM0062, SBM0067, and SBM0073. “A “is from the Ohnakahara Site and “B” is from the Kakoinoharu Site in Kagoshima Prefecture. Details are provided in Table 2.
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pone-0014785-g002: Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) images of the maize weevil impression replicas obtained from potsherds from the Sanbonmatsu Site.Maize weevil impressions on pottery (a), pottery section illustrations with rubbings (b), photos of cavities (c), and SEM images of the impression replicas (d,e,f). The white circles indicate the position of the cavities in the pottery. “A” and “B” show the positions of the potsherds with maize weevil impressions in pottery samples SBM0060, SBM0061, SBM0062, SBM0067, and SBM0073. “A “is from the Ohnakahara Site and “B” is from the Kakoinoharu Site in Kagoshima Prefecture. Details are provided in Table 2.

Mentions: Adult granary weevils have elongated punctations on their thorax and other body parts, whereas adult rice and maize weevils have round or irregular punctations [20]. Most of the replicas lacked legs and a rostrum, but had round or irregularly shaped punctations, similar to those of maize weevils (Fig. 2, Table 2).


A new light on the evolution and propagation of prehistoric grain pests: the world's oldest maize weevils found in Jomon Potteries, Japan.

Obata H, Manabe A, Nakamura N, Onishi T, Senba Y - PLoS ONE (2011)

Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) images of the maize weevil impression replicas obtained from potsherds from the Sanbonmatsu Site.Maize weevil impressions on pottery (a), pottery section illustrations with rubbings (b), photos of cavities (c), and SEM images of the impression replicas (d,e,f). The white circles indicate the position of the cavities in the pottery. “A” and “B” show the positions of the potsherds with maize weevil impressions in pottery samples SBM0060, SBM0061, SBM0062, SBM0067, and SBM0073. “A “is from the Ohnakahara Site and “B” is from the Kakoinoharu Site in Kagoshima Prefecture. Details are provided in Table 2.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3066187&req=5

pone-0014785-g002: Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) images of the maize weevil impression replicas obtained from potsherds from the Sanbonmatsu Site.Maize weevil impressions on pottery (a), pottery section illustrations with rubbings (b), photos of cavities (c), and SEM images of the impression replicas (d,e,f). The white circles indicate the position of the cavities in the pottery. “A” and “B” show the positions of the potsherds with maize weevil impressions in pottery samples SBM0060, SBM0061, SBM0062, SBM0067, and SBM0073. “A “is from the Ohnakahara Site and “B” is from the Kakoinoharu Site in Kagoshima Prefecture. Details are provided in Table 2.
Mentions: Adult granary weevils have elongated punctations on their thorax and other body parts, whereas adult rice and maize weevils have round or irregular punctations [20]. Most of the replicas lacked legs and a rostrum, but had round or irregularly shaped punctations, similar to those of maize weevils (Fig. 2, Table 2).

Bottom Line: These specimens are the oldest harmful insects in the world discovered at archaeological sites.Our results provide evidence of harmful insects living in the villages from the Earliest Jomon, when no cereals were cultivated.Although details of their biology or the foods they infested remain unclear, we hope future interdisciplinary collaborations among geneticists, entomologists, and archaeologists will provide the missing details.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Faculty of Letters, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan.

ABSTRACT
Three Sitophilus species (S. granarius L., S. oryzae L., and S. zeamais Mots.) are closely related based on DNA analysis of their endosymbionts. All are seed parasites of cereal crops and important economic pest species in stored grain. The Sitophilus species that currently exist, including these three species, are generally believed to be endemic to Asia's forested areas, suggesting that the first infestations of stored grain must have taken place near the forested mountains of southwestern Asia. Previous archaeological data and historical records suggest that the three species may have been diffused by the spread of Neolithic agriculture, but this hypothesis has only been established for granary weevils in European and southwestern Asian archaeological records. There was little archeological evidence for grain pests in East Asia before the discovery of maize weevil impressions in Jomon pottery in 2004 using the "impression replica" method. Our research on Jomon agriculture based on seed and insect impressions in pottery continued to seek additional evidence. In 2010, we discovered older weevil impressions in Jomon pottery dating to ca. 10 500 BP. These specimens are the oldest harmful insects in the world discovered at archaeological sites. Our results provide evidence of harmful insects living in the villages from the Earliest Jomon, when no cereals were cultivated. This suggests we must reconsider previous scenarios for the evolution and propagation of grain pest weevils, especially in eastern Asia. Although details of their biology or the foods they infested remain unclear, we hope future interdisciplinary collaborations among geneticists, entomologists, and archaeologists will provide the missing details.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus