By the same authors

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From the same journal

Pathogens and host immunity in the ancient human oral cavity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Published copy (DOI)


  • Christina Warinner
  • João F Matias Rodrigues
  • Rounak Vyas
  • Christian Trachsel
  • Natallia Shved
  • Jonas Grossmann
  • Raul Y Tito
  • Sophy Charlton
  • Hans Ulrich Luder
  • Domingo C Salazar-García
  • Elisabeth Eppler
  • Roger Seiler
  • Lars H Hansen
  • José Alfredo Samaniego Castruita
  • Simon Barkow-Oesterreicher
  • Kai Yik Teoh
  • Christian D Kelstrup
  • Jesper V Olsen
  • Paolo Nanni
  • Toshihisa Kawai
  • Eske Willerslev
  • Christian von Mering
  • Cecil M Lewis
  • M Thomas P Gilbert
  • Frank Rühli
  • Enrico Cappellini


Publication details

JournalNature genetics
DateAccepted/In press - 3 Feb 2014
DateE-pub ahead of print - 23 Feb 2014
DatePublished (current) - Apr 2014
Issue number4
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)336-344
Early online date23/02/14
Original languageEnglish


Calcified dental plaque (dental calculus) preserves for millennia and entraps biomolecules from all domains of life and viruses. We report the first, to our knowledge, high-resolution taxonomic and protein functional characterization of the ancient oral microbiome and demonstrate that the oral cavity has long served as a reservoir for bacteria implicated in both local and systemic disease. We characterize (i) the ancient oral microbiome in a diseased state, (ii) 40 opportunistic pathogens, (iii) ancient human-associated putative antibiotic resistance genes, (iv) a genome reconstruction of the periodontal pathogen Tannerella forsythia, (v) 239 bacterial and 43 human proteins, allowing confirmation of a long-term association between host immune factors, 'red complex' pathogens and periodontal disease, and (vi) DNA sequences matching dietary sources. Directly datable and nearly ubiquitous, dental calculus permits the simultaneous investigation of pathogen activity, host immunity and diet, thereby extending direct investigation of common diseases into the human evolutionary past.

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