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Ancient human oral plaque preserves a wealth of biological data

A new study explores the ancient oral microbiome from the well-preserved dental calculus samples of four human individuals who lived during medieval times, using a suite of genomic, proteomic and microscopic approaches. The authors investigate the evolution of dental pathogens by reconstructing the genome of the periodontal pathogen Tannerella forsythia and also identify antibiotic resistance genes, bacterial virulence factors and host immune defense proteins.

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Figure 1: Dental calculus is a calcified dental plaque, primarily composed of calcium phosphate mineral salts that can form both supra- and subgingival deposits on teeth.

Kim Caesar

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Correspondence to Rob Knight.

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Metcalf, J., Ursell, L. & Knight, R. Ancient human oral plaque preserves a wealth of biological data. Nat Genet 46, 321–323 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/ng.2930

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