Dear all, since several people found the paper by Adler and colleagues which shows how dental microbiota reflects major life style changes in humans interesting, I suggest that we go ahead and read that. Also, my parents are both dentists and would be delighted to know that I have read this. The paper is entitled "Sequencing ancient calcified dental plaque shows changes in oral microbiota with dietary shifts of the Neolithic and Industrial revolutions", and the abstract is posted below.
Since this is a quite short read I would also like to suggest that we put the last 30 minutes of the labmeeting aside to discuss panel interviews and how to prepare for these as both Jessica Abbott and I will be attending interviews soon. Jessica will be interviewed for an ERC Junior grant and I for a Wenner-Gren Fellowshiph. I will bring some fika to stimulate discussions.
Abstract: The importance of commensal microbes for human health is increasingly recognized1, 2, 3, 4, 5, yet the impacts of evolutionary changes in human diet and culture on commensal microbiota remain almost unknown. Two of the greatest dietary shifts in human evolution involved the adoption of carbohydrate-rich Neolithic (farming) diets6, 7 (beginning ~10,000 years before the present6, 8) and the more recent advent of industrially processed flour and sugar (in ~1850)9. Here, we show that calcified dental plaque (dental calculus) on ancient teeth preserves a detailed genetic record throughout this period. Data from 34 early European skeletons indicate that the transition from hunter-gatherer to farming shifted the oral microbial community to a disease-associated configuration. The composition of oral microbiota remained unexpectedly constant between Neolithic and medieval times, after which (the now ubiquitous) cariogenic bacteria became dominant, apparently during the Industrial Revolution. Modern oral microbiotic ecosystems are markedly less diverse than historic populations, which might be contributing to chronic oral (and other) disease in postindustrial lifestyles.