Inferring diet, disease, and antibiotic resistance from the ancient oral microbiome

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Gwyn Dahlquist-Axe, Francesca Standeven, Camilla Speller, Andrew Tedder, Conor Meehan 


The interaction between a host and its microbiome is an area of intense study. For the human host, it is known that the various body site-associated microbiomes impact heavily on health and disease states. For instance, the oral microbiome is a source of various pathogens and potential antibiotic resistance gene pools. The effect of historical changes to the human host and environment to the associated microbiome, however, is less explored. In this review, we characterize several historic and prehistoric events which are considered to have impacted the oral environment and therefore the bacterial communities residing within. The link between evolutionary changes to the oral microbiota and the significant societal and behavioral changes occurring during the pre-Neolithic, Agricultural Revolution, Industrial Revolution, and Antibiotic Era is explored. While previous studies suggest the functional profile of these communities may have shifted over the centuries, there is currently a gap in knowledge that needs to be filled. Biomolecular archaeological evidence of innate antimicrobial resistance within the oral microbiome shows an increase in the abundance of antimicrobial resistance genes since the advent and widespread use of antibiotics in the modern era. Nevertheless, a lack of research into the prevalence and evolution of antimicrobial resistance within the oral microbiome throughout history hinders our ability to combat antimicrobial resistance in the modern era.



Bacteriology, Computational Biology, Life Sciences


Oral microbiome, ancient DNA, antibiotic resistance, evolution, Ancient DNA, Antibiotic Resistance, evolution


Published: 2023-11-17 09:40


CC-BY Attribution-No Derivatives 4.0 International

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