Reconstruction of Oral Microbiomes From Extinct and Extant Anthropoids through Ancient DNA


SMBE18: I presented a poster at SMBE18 Japan, entitled: “Reconstruction of Oral Microbiomes From Extinct and Extant Anthropoids through Ancient DNA”.

Abstract While modern microbiome research has shown the importance of our microbial communities in health and disease, research has tended to focus on the gut microbiome of either Western industrialised societies or captive animals. Recent discoveries in the field of archaeogenetics have revealed dental calculus from skeletal remains as a rich source of well-preserved bacterial DNA. In contrast to sampling from live individuals, dental calculus from archaeological remains presents an opportunity to ‘non-invasively’ study the oral microbiome from a wider diversity of species and populations.

We present results of a total over 3.5 billion shotgun DNA sequencing reads from ancient and modern dental calculus from over 90 hominids, including gorillas (29), chimps (20) and humans (45), as well as 14 Neanderthals from the Late Pleistocene and 5 New World monkeys. We will show initial (meta)genomic analysis of similarities and differences in the oral plaque microbiome at different stages of anthropoid evolution. While preservation is variable in archaeological samples, dental calculus from the Late Pleistocene can still yield authentic ancient DNA attributable to known microbial taxa found in the modern human oral cavity. Expanding our knowledge of the diversity of the human microbiome through time and space will be important in understanding the deep relationship between hosts and their microbial communities.

A copy of this poster can be found here.