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Your tooth plaque can reveal diet, diseases hundreds of years after death

RATE THIS! +23
Posted in Science on 4th Mar, 2014 11:39 PM by AlexMuller

New research shows that buried within plaque is a history of the bacteria, food, and other microscopic particles that crossed the teeth it's come to coat. While plaque may have less to say about those with good oral hygiene today, an international group of researchers has found that it could reveal quite a bit about our ancestors:

 

On the teeth of several 1,000-year-old skeletons, researchers were able to determine health and dietary information and to analyze the bacteria that once existed in their mouths.

 
"The most interesting, but not especially staggering finding, is that it was possible to reconstruct the whole genome of a bacteria living in a Medieval nun's mouth and reveal that it lacked antibiotic resistance genes found in modern strains," Matthew Collins, a University of York professor involved with the research, writes in an email to The Verge.
 
The researchers identified a number of pathogens and disease-causing bacteria within the plaque and, in particular, found that gum disease was caused by the same bacteria then as it is today.
 
But that's merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what's hidden inside of plaque. "We think that ancient plaque ... is going to be a major new frontier in the study of the oral microbiome," Collins writes.
 
Most ancient human remains have hardened plaque in their mouths, and the researchers say that future studies may be able to outline how the ecosystem of microbes in our mouths has changed over time as humans changed their diets and behaviors.

Tags: teethdietfoodanthropologybacteria

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Comments

Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-05
+2
Human microbes are of considerable interest including this research into history. I believe that there is more bacteria in an average human than accrual human cells! Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-05
+3
The main point of this work is that researches identified a new place to look for useful information. Hopefully, they may now be able "to begin identifying changes in diet that led to issues of health that we're still dealing with today." Reply
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-05
+1
It seems that microbes reflect the diet very well, at least in the gut. A recent study shows that, in as little as a day, diet can alter the population of microbes in the gut as well as the types of genes expressed by gut bacteria. Remarkable!
3 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-05
+2
This is a very important aspect of a very hot area of science. Perhaps by adjusting diet, one can shape the microbiome in a way that can promote health!
1 Replies
Author: Guest
Posted: 2014-03-05
+0
Perhaps in prehistoric groups, when there was a lot more fluctuation in terms of what you can forage or hunt for, such quick adaptation could have been very useful Reply
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