Researchers in England are planning to sequence the entire genome of Richard III by extracting the DNA from his bone material.
Extracting ancient DNA is difficult. Dr. Turi King (Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester) will lead the project. She said it was invariably fragmentary, and it was a question of piecing together and overlaying fragments to complete a jigsaw. King will be working with Professor Michael Hofreiter in the ancient DNA laboratory at Potsdam University. The complete genome sequence will be placed online in an archive available to historians, scientists and the public, although Ibsen’s will not be published.
Richard III will be the first known historical figure to have his genes studied in this way; scientists have previously sequenced the genomes of Oetzi the Iceman, a number of Neanderthals, and most recently a hunter-gatherer from Spain.
The £100,000 ($164,000 / €120,000) cost of the project, which is expected to take at least a year, is being funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Leverhulme Trust and the geneticist Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys.