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Mummy research: Ancient dental calculus - new insights into the evolution of oral microbiota

04 October 21

Mummy research: Ancient dental calculus - new insights into the evolution of oral microbiota

A research team from Eurac Research and the University of Trento has examined ancient calculus samples from skeletal remains from South Tyrol and Trentino and discovered previously unknown species of microorganisms

mummy-research-ancient-dental-calculus.zip

Plaque – horrible stuff, right? Well yes, but not entirely: old tooth plaque also known as dental calculus samples provide a valuable source of information about our oral microbiota and its development. A team of researchers from Eurac Research and the University of Trento, examined the calculus of twenty human skeletal remains from South Tyrol and Trentino dating from the Neolithic period to the Early Middle Ages. The team discovered two previously unknown species of a common microorganism in our bodies called Methanobrevibacter. Thanks to the application of a bioinformatics method not yet established in mummy research, the research group was also able to reveal that on a temporal axis of 50,000 years, the diversity of this organism in our oral flora has declined sharply in recent centuries. The results of the study have now been published in the renowned journal "Microbiome".

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