Plans revealed to create Richard III genome
2014 02 13

By Maev Kennedy | The Guardian



The bones of the king under the car park have more to tell: scientists are to analyse the DNA from the remains of Richard III to create the world’s first complete genome sequence for a named historical figure.

The process could reveal his hair and eye colour, his susceptibility to conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, whether he was lactose intolerant, and whether the scoliosis that contorted his spine was genetic. It could also show if any of the surviving portraits, all completed years after his death, are accurate.

The extent to which genes influence character is still a matter for scientific debate, so while the experiment may reveal whether the last Plantagenet king had straight or curly hair, it is unlikely to establish whether Richard was likely to have murdered his way to the throne, his victims including his young nephews, the little princes in the Tower. The tale was a source of scandal in his lifetime and was trumpeted after his death on the battlefield at Bosworth in 1485 by Tudor propagandists including William Shakespeare. "It has been suggested that there is a ’warrior-worrier’ gene, but I am not yet convinced," said geneticist Turi King, who will lead the £100,000 project.

Although genome sequencing has successfully been done on much older bones, including the 5,300-year-old remains of Ötzi the Iceman, and recently a 7,000-year-old tooth which revealed that a hunter gatherer from Spain had blue eyes, King and her colleagues hope to produce the first results from ancient DNA from a named individual whose history is known. It was King who managed to extract DNA from the bones excavated from a scruffy council car park in Leicester, and helped to prove that they were indeed those of the king whose grave had been lost for 500 years. The announcement last February that the team from Leicester University had found Richard "beyond reasonable doubt" made front-page news around the world.

Richard left no descendants but the mitochondrial DNA, passed through the maternal line, proved a perfect match for a Canadian-born, London-based furniture maker, Michael Ibsen, Richard’s 17-times great-nephew through the descendants of his sister Anne of York. King is also going to create a complete genome sequence for Ibsen, to check if any other segments of DNA are still shared across so many centuries.

King will carry out the tests on small samples of bone ground to a powder, in addition to the samples she has already taken. Any residue will be buried with the bones, but where his final resting place will be is still being fought over in the courts, after a group who believe he should be buried in York challenged the original plan to bury him in Leicester Cathedral, 100 yards from the car park where he lay hidden for so long.



Related Articles
Richard III: a maligned king’s reburial becomes a sordid affair
Infected and Hunched: King Richard III Was Crawling With Roundworms
Mysterious Coffin Found At Richard III’s Burial Site Contains... A Second Coffin
King Richard III Hastily Buried, Hands Tied
King Richard III’s face recreated from skull


Latest News from our Front Page

NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17. From the U.S. Army in Europe website: Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria. A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
Judge says government can access everything in a Gmail account
2014 07 24
All your emails are belong to us. At least that’s what the latest court order from a judge in New York says. The warrant, granted on June 11, states that the government can access all the content and files contained in a Gmail account. Yes, this is a significant blow to privacy. The subject of this specific search relates to a money laundering ...
Scotland Yard Spied on Grieving Families: secret surveillance after police victim shot seven times in head ’by mistake’
2014 07 24
More terror from the ’anti-terror’ brigade. Undercover police gathered evidence on 18 grieving families By Rob Evans and Vikram Dodd | The Guardian Undercover police officers secretly gathered intelligence over two decades on 18 families fighting to get justice from the police, it was revealed on Thursday. The intelligence covering high-profile campaigns was collected between the mid-1980s and 2005, and affected grieving families ...
Air Algerie AH5017 with 116 onboard goes missing for hours, found crashed in Mali
2014 07 24
An Air Algerie flight carrying 110 passengers and six crew members has reportedly crashed in Mali after having disappeared from radar early on Thursday morning between Burkina Faso and Algeria. A French Ministry of Defense official told Fox News that the two French fighter jets located the wreckage of the plane, which had crashed in Mali. An airport official additionally confirmed ...
More News »