Differential DNA Preservation in Archaeological Dental Calculus and Dentin Has Implications for Ancient Microbiome Research
Ancient DNA (aDNA) studies of preserved microbiomes from dental calculus and paleofeces shed light on the evolution of these complex microbial communities, as well as both human health and behavior in the past. Despite recent advances in the recovery and authentication of aDNA, environmental contamination and inconsistent molecular preservation remains a continuous concern. Recent studies suggest that dental calculus may provide a better preservation environment for DNA than other archaeological materials, yet this hypothesis has not been systematically tested. In this study, we adopt a non-targeted shotgun approach to analyze the preservation of microbial and human DNA in 48 paired dental calculus and dentin samples from archaeological contexts. These represent a broad spatial and temporal breadth and thus contribute to a better understanding of DNA preservation in dental calculus independent of burial context, age of the sample, and depositional environment. Our investigation demonstrates that dental calculus offers a robust preservation environment for endogenous microbial DNA. In addition to the strong microbial signal, calculus consistently contained low amounts of human DNA, and thus may serve as an appropriate source of DNA for analyses of archaeological materials stemming from environments less conducive to molecular preservation.
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Differential DNA Preservation in Archaeological Dental Calculus and Dentin Has Implications for Ancient Microbiome Research. Allison Mann, Susanna Sabin, Kirsten Ziesemer, Kirsten Bos, Christina Warinner. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444134)
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Abstract Id(s): 20920