Blood preserved in pumpkin not of King Louis XVI

The DNA sample recovered from the inside of a pumpkin, previously attributed to King Louis XVI, does not actually belong to the French monarch, a new study has claimed.

Complete genome sequencing suggests that blood remains correspond to a short male with brown eyes, while as Louis XVI had blue eyes and was tall, researchers found.

The study involving Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) shows the complete genome of the DNA recovered from a relic that was attributed so far to the French King.

"When the Y chromosome of three living Bourbons was decoded and we saw that it did not match with the DNA recovered from the pumpkin in 2010, we decided to sequence the complete genome and to make a functional interpretation in order to see if the blood could actually belong to Louis XVI," CSIC researcher Carles Lalueza-Fox, from the Institute of Evolutionary Biology, said.

The functional genome analysis was based on two main points, the genealogical line and the physical appearance, and in both cases the result was negative.

According to the historical records that go back to his 16 great-great grandparents, Louis XVI had a very heterogeneous genealogical line in which central European ancestors predominated, mainly from the area that today is Germany and Poland, while the genome recovered from the pumpkin belongs to an individual with a clear French and Italian component.

In terms of physical appearance, the sequenced DNA points to an average height in France at the time and brown eyes, while portraits and historical accounts describe Louis XVI as the tallest man on the court and with blue eyes.

"Beyond the anecdotal fact whether or not the DNA belongs to Louis XVI, we present here the first genome from a recent historical period," Lalueza-Fox said.

According to the chronicles of the time, there were many citizens who went to the scaffold in which Louis XVI was executed to dip their handkerchiefs in the blood of the monarch and thus save a historic memory, researchers said.

In 2010, a study coordinated by Lalueza-Fox analysed the blood from one of these handkerchiefs, which had stained the inside of the pumpkin, decorated with portraits of the protagonists of the French Revolution, in which it had been kept.

That study confirmed that the blood belonged to a European man whose paternal lineage was very hard to find in current genetic databases.

The finding was published in the Scientific Reports journal.

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