Palaeogenomic Investigation Of 50,000 Years Of The Human Oral Microbiome In The Iberian Mediterranean


EAA2018: I gave an talk at the European Association of Archaeologists conference, entitled: “Palaeogenomic Investigation Of 50,000 Years Of The Human Oral Microbiome In The Iberian Mediterranean”.

This was presented in the session: “EXPLORING THE POTENTIAL OF DENTAL CALCULUS FOR RECONSTRUCTING THE PAST” organised by Robert C. Power, Shira Guy Arieh, Cynthianne Spiteri and Domingo Carlos Salazar-Garcia.

Abstract The bacterial communities that live on the human body play an important role in health and disease during the lifetime of an individual. Furthermore, research on these ‘microbiota’ in modern populations have shown that cultural behaviour influences the composition of these communities, with subsequent effects on the host. Recent findings of well preserved endogenous microbial DNA in archaeological dental calculus has provided insights into the biology and cultural behaviour of past individuals.

Previously, it has been argued that agricultural and industrial dietary transitions may have had a major impact on the makeup of microbiome communities in European human populations. However, these findings were based on a small number of geographically dispersed samples and focused on PCR amplification of a single bacterial marker gene. To control for geographic and inter-individual variation of the oral microbiota, as well as potential amplification biases, we have generated shotgun metagenomic DNA sequence data from over 100 dental calculus samples focusing on populations from a single region, the Iberian Mediterranean and its inland area of influence, which chronologically spans from the Palaeolithic to the present day. We present results on the genetic preservation of dental calculus over this interval and test for associations between patterns in the oral microbial communities and human cultural periods.