Biology Faculty Articles

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-3-2022

Publication Title

FEMS Microbes

Keywords

ancient DNA, microbiome, dental calculus, metagenomics, biogeography, archaeology

ISSN

2633-6685

Volume

3

Issue/No.

xtac006

Abstract

The oral cavity is a heterogeneous environment, varying in factors such as pH, oxygen levels, and salivary flow. These factors affect the microbial community composition and distribution of species in dental plaque, but it is not known how well these patterns are reflected in archaeological dental calculus. In most archaeological studies, a single sample of dental calculus is studied per individual and is assumed to represent the entire oral cavity. However, it is not known if this sampling strategy introduces biases into studies of the ancient oral microbiome. Here, we present the results of a shotgun metagenomic study of a dense sampling of dental calculus from four Chalcolithic individuals from the southeast Iberian peninsula (ca. 4500–5000 BP). Interindividual differences in microbial composition are found to be much larger than intraindividual differences, indicating that a single sample can indeed represent an individual in most cases. However, there are minor spatial patterns in species distribution within the oral cavity that should be taken into account when designing a study or interpreting results. Finally, we show that plant DNA identified in the samples is likely of postmortem origin, demonstrating the importance of including environmental controls or additional lines of biomolecular evidence in dietary interpretations.

Comments

© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of FEMS.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

xtac006_supplemental_files.zip (10588 kB)
Supplemental Files

ORCID ID

0000-0003-4540-7106

ResearcherID

D-1147-2018

DOI

10.1093/femsmc/xtac006

Peer Reviewed

COinS
 
 

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