Ancient DNA Analysis of Dental Calculus

Laura S. Weyrich, Keith Dobney, Alan Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Dental calculus (calcified tartar or plaque) is today widespread on modern human teeth around the world. A combination of soft starchy foods, changing acidity of the oral environment, genetic pre-disposition, and the absence of dental hygiene all lead to the build-up of microorganisms and food debris on the tooth crown, which eventually calcifies through a complex process of mineralisation. Millions of oral microbes are trapped and preserved within this mineralised matrix, including pathogens associated with the oral cavity and airways, masticated food debris, and other types of extraneous particles that enter the mouth. As a result, archaeologists and anthropologists are increasingly using ancient human dental calculus to explore broad aspects of past human diet and health. Most recently, high-throughput DNA sequencing of ancient dental calculus has provided valuable insights into the evolution of the oral microbiome and shed new light on the impacts of some of the major biocultural transitions on human health throughout history and prehistory. Here, we provide a brief historical overview of archaeological dental calculus research, and discuss the current approaches to ancient DNA sampling and sequencing. Novel applications of ancient DNA from dental calculus are discussed, highlighting the considerable scope of this new research field for evolutionary biology and modern medicine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-124
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Volume79
Early online date1 Dec 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

Fingerprint

genetic test
mouth
food
DNA
tooth
dental hygiene
evolutionary biology
prehistory
hygiene
health
teeth
field research
medicine
disposition
acidity
biology
oral hygiene
cavity
microorganisms
pathogen

Keywords

  • microbiome
  • disease evolution
  • dietary analysis
  • ancient bacteria

Cite this

Ancient DNA Analysis of Dental Calculus. / Weyrich, Laura S. ; Dobney, Keith; Cooper, Alan.

In: Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 79, 02.2015, p. 119-124.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Weyrich, Laura S. ; Dobney, Keith ; Cooper, Alan. / Ancient DNA Analysis of Dental Calculus. In: Journal of Human Evolution. 2015 ; Vol. 79. pp. 119-124.
@article{19fe66cc7b9345e2834b10bdcb93cda9,
title = "Ancient DNA Analysis of Dental Calculus",
abstract = "Dental calculus (calcified tartar or plaque) is today widespread on modern human teeth around the world. A combination of soft starchy foods, changing acidity of the oral environment, genetic pre-disposition, and the absence of dental hygiene all lead to the build-up of microorganisms and food debris on the tooth crown, which eventually calcifies through a complex process of mineralisation. Millions of oral microbes are trapped and preserved within this mineralised matrix, including pathogens associated with the oral cavity and airways, masticated food debris, and other types of extraneous particles that enter the mouth. As a result, archaeologists and anthropologists are increasingly using ancient human dental calculus to explore broad aspects of past human diet and health. Most recently, high-throughput DNA sequencing of ancient dental calculus has provided valuable insights into the evolution of the oral microbiome and shed new light on the impacts of some of the major biocultural transitions on human health throughout history and prehistory. Here, we provide a brief historical overview of archaeological dental calculus research, and discuss the current approaches to ancient DNA sampling and sequencing. Novel applications of ancient DNA from dental calculus are discussed, highlighting the considerable scope of this new research field for evolutionary biology and modern medicine.",
keywords = "microbiome, disease evolution, dietary analysis , ancient bacteria",
author = "Weyrich, {Laura S.} and Keith Dobney and Alan Cooper",
year = "2015",
month = "2",
doi = "10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.06.018",
language = "English",
volume = "79",
pages = "119--124",
journal = "Journal of Human Evolution",
issn = "0047-2484",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Ancient DNA Analysis of Dental Calculus

AU - Weyrich, Laura S.

AU - Dobney, Keith

AU - Cooper, Alan

PY - 2015/2

Y1 - 2015/2

N2 - Dental calculus (calcified tartar or plaque) is today widespread on modern human teeth around the world. A combination of soft starchy foods, changing acidity of the oral environment, genetic pre-disposition, and the absence of dental hygiene all lead to the build-up of microorganisms and food debris on the tooth crown, which eventually calcifies through a complex process of mineralisation. Millions of oral microbes are trapped and preserved within this mineralised matrix, including pathogens associated with the oral cavity and airways, masticated food debris, and other types of extraneous particles that enter the mouth. As a result, archaeologists and anthropologists are increasingly using ancient human dental calculus to explore broad aspects of past human diet and health. Most recently, high-throughput DNA sequencing of ancient dental calculus has provided valuable insights into the evolution of the oral microbiome and shed new light on the impacts of some of the major biocultural transitions on human health throughout history and prehistory. Here, we provide a brief historical overview of archaeological dental calculus research, and discuss the current approaches to ancient DNA sampling and sequencing. Novel applications of ancient DNA from dental calculus are discussed, highlighting the considerable scope of this new research field for evolutionary biology and modern medicine.

AB - Dental calculus (calcified tartar or plaque) is today widespread on modern human teeth around the world. A combination of soft starchy foods, changing acidity of the oral environment, genetic pre-disposition, and the absence of dental hygiene all lead to the build-up of microorganisms and food debris on the tooth crown, which eventually calcifies through a complex process of mineralisation. Millions of oral microbes are trapped and preserved within this mineralised matrix, including pathogens associated with the oral cavity and airways, masticated food debris, and other types of extraneous particles that enter the mouth. As a result, archaeologists and anthropologists are increasingly using ancient human dental calculus to explore broad aspects of past human diet and health. Most recently, high-throughput DNA sequencing of ancient dental calculus has provided valuable insights into the evolution of the oral microbiome and shed new light on the impacts of some of the major biocultural transitions on human health throughout history and prehistory. Here, we provide a brief historical overview of archaeological dental calculus research, and discuss the current approaches to ancient DNA sampling and sequencing. Novel applications of ancient DNA from dental calculus are discussed, highlighting the considerable scope of this new research field for evolutionary biology and modern medicine.

KW - microbiome

KW - disease evolution

KW - dietary analysis

KW - ancient bacteria

U2 - 10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.06.018

DO - 10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.06.018

M3 - Article

VL - 79

SP - 119

EP - 124

JO - Journal of Human Evolution

JF - Journal of Human Evolution

SN - 0047-2484

ER -