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Alterations in South American Oral Health Through the Colonial Period: The Story of Ancient DNA Trapped Within Dental Calculus

Author(s): Laura Weyrich ; Keith Dobney ; Alan Cooper

Year: 2017

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Summary

Interpreting the evolutionary history of bacterial communities within the human body (microbiota) is key to understanding the origin of many modern diseases. The link between humans and their microbiota can also be exploited to examine and track the extent and severity of human adaptation to the environment and impacts on health. Here, we utilize a shotgun sequencing approach to examine ancient DNA preserved within dental calculus from a wide range of ancient South Americans (n=162). Well-preserved specimens revealed remarkable microbial diversity in South Americans prior to European arrival. In fact, nearly all observed South American oral microbial diversity fell outside of known ancient and modern European diversity. The patterns observed within microbiota reflected human mitochondrial DNA distribution, and reflected cultural continuity, rather than human replacement, in several locations, similar to the mitochondrial DNA from the same individuals. We also identified unique oral microbial taxa present within South Americans, and can tracked changes within these species as Europeans arrive, with the potential downstream health-impacts. Consequently, ancient oral microbiota provides a wealth of cultural and anthropological information about the past, which is critical to identify events that altered human health and history.


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Alterations in South American Oral Health Through the Colonial Period: The Story of Ancient DNA Trapped Within Dental Calculus. Laura Weyrich, Keith Dobney, Alan Cooper. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431014)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
South America


Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15063

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America